The year 2022 was a landmark year for e-commerce, both in Greece and globally, as the digital transition skyrocketed the use of the internet for shopping, changing consumer culture, and now bringing the multi-channel business model into focus. E-commerce is recording significant growth rates that exceed European averages, with consumers spending more money now and total turnover exceeding 20 billion euros, as Greeks have significantly increased their average online shopping spend.
According to market analysts, 2023 is expected to be the first year in the last three years that began without any restrictions and brakes on the economy, with inflationary pressures however troubling businesses and households. 2022 demonstrated the cultural change that has taken place in Greece, with consumer loyalty to e-commerce exceeding 85%, based on research by the European Federation of Electronic Commerce (eCommerce Europe), while turnover reached a historic high.
The turnover of e-commerce in Greece reached 20.5 billion euros according to ELSTAT data, constituting 6,9% of the total turnover of 39,460 businesses employing 10 people or more that had a total turnover of 295.9 billion. euro. Of the total number of businesses, 7,472 received orders via a website or special applications or via EDI type messages (18.9% rate) with a turnover reaching 20.5 billion euros.
There are more than 800,000 online stores in Europe, according to research by Ecommerce News Europe in collaboration with Dataprovider. In 2022, the three items with the most popular purchases were clothing (including shoes and accessories), deliveries from restaurants, fast food, and catering services, and cosmetics, beauty and wellness products. 42% of online shoppers bought or ordered clothes (including sportswear), shoes, and accessories in 2022, down from 43 % in 2021. The proportion of individuals having bought or ordered products from restaurants, fast-food or catering services was 19 % in 2022, stable compared with 2021. The proportion of individuals who bought or ordered cosmetics, beauty, and wellness products was 17 % in 2022, unchanged compared with 2021. Only 3 % of online buyers reported having made a transaction related to films or series such as DVDs, blu-rays, etc. Through the pandemic, e-commerce has been a breath of fresh air for retailers, which were required to navigate the challenges of nonessential store closings and lockdowns. While these times were a catalyst of digitalization, jewelry brands realized that selling their products online brings a significantly wider range of benefits that they could leverage even when the pandemic would be over.
The risks, however, remain considerable for consumers, as an audit carried out by the Commission found that almost 40% of e-shops in Europe use manipulative practices to exploit the weaknesses of consumers or to mislead them. According to the results of the European audit, it was found that there are specific practices used by e-shops to manipulate consumers and make choices contrary to their interests. In particular, the Commission reports that fake countdown timers, online interfaces, designed to lead consumers to purchases, subscriptions or other options and invisible information are being observed.
At least 148 of the 399 e-shops found under the Commission’s “microscope” contained at least one of these three misleading patterns. Also 70 e-shops hid important information about delivery costs, product composition or the availability of a cheaper option or made it less visible to consumers, while 23 e-shops hid information with the aim of manipulating consumers into signing up. In addition, it should be noted that the internet is a key route for the trafficking of counterfeit products, as according to EUIPO and OECD research, half of the counterfeit products seized at EU borders and infringing the Intellectual Property rights of small and medium-sized enterprises had purchased online.