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Selling online in the EU part one – a market report for Canadian SMEs

Get guidance and practical information to successfully export your products via e-commerce to the European Union (EU) market. Request of a full copy of our market report at:

Benefits of selling online in the EU

  • The EU e-commerce market is one of the most highly developed in the world and is the third largest (after China and the US) with sales exceeding EUR 254 billion in 2020
  • With an average of around 60% of EU consumers purchasing products online at least once in 2019, the EU e-commerce market reaches a massive consumer base
  • The EU e-commerce market is expected to see a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in value terms over 2020-2025, driven by increasingly digital consumers and the impact of Covid-19

Who should use this guide

  • Business with no or basic export experience
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking for new export materials
  • Business already active in one EU country and seeking to expand their activities to other Member States, using the opportunities offered by the EU Single Market


The purpose of our market report is to help identify how your business can take advantage of the diverse and growing EU e-commerce market. It will help you:

  • Develop a practical and concrete roadmap for exporting your goods via e-commerce to EU countries
  • Identify the main challenges commonly encountered by Canadian companies and get guidance on how to deal with them
  • Decide which online channel to use to enter the EU market

In particular, our market report answers the following questions:

  • What are the key characteristics of the EU e-commerce market? What were the impacts of Covid-19?
  • What are the main stages of market entry for a Canadian company?
  • Should you use an online marketplace or sell via an independent website?
  • What are the factors to take into account to ensure that you select the right online marketplace?
  • What are the main online marketplaces in the European Union, their onboarding process and requirements as well as advantages and challenges to sell on these marketplaces?
  • How to decide whether to warehouse in Canada or somewhere in the EU, or partner with a marketplace or third-party logistics provider to leverage its warehousing capabilities?
  • Why is it important to develop a digital marketing strategy?
  • What are the relevant services providers and partners that can help you enter the e-commerce space in Europe?

Get the full report

For a full copy of the market report, please contact

Are you mapping the EU regulations applicable to your company? The Trade Commissioner Service developed a guide to help you identify your regulatory obligations and understand how to comply with them, depending on whether you decide to use on an online marketplace or an independent website.


This guide:

  • provides general information to readers who take full responsibility for its use
  • is not a substitute for professional or legal advice

The Government of Canada:

  • is not responsible for errors or omissions or for results arising from the use of the information in this guide
  • has not verified the contents of third-party websites
  • does not endorse, warrant, promote or recommend any services or products that may be provided or accessed through third-party websites or any person or body that may provide them
  • has not issued or caused to be issued any advertisements that may appear on these websites

List of content for the full report

  • 1. Getting started
  • 2. Market highlights
  • 3. Understanding the EU e-commerce market
    • 3.1 e-Commerce in Europe Continues to Grow
    • 3.2 Market Drivers
    • 3.3 A Diverse Market
    • 3.4 Impact of COVID-19
  • 4. Entering the EU market
    • 4.1 E-commerce Market Entry
    • 4.2 Choosing an Online Channel
      • 4.2.1 Should I use a European Online Marketplace?
      • 4.2.2 Should I sell via an independent website?
    • 4.3 Selling on an Online Marketplace
    • 4.4 Choosing an Online Marketplace
      • 4.4.1
      • 4.4.2 eBay
      • 4.4.3 Zalando
      • 4.4.4 Fnac
      • 4.4.5 La Redoute
      • 4.4.6 Allegro
      • 4.4.7 Darty
      • 4.4.8 Cdiscount
      • 4.4.9 Carrefour
      • 4.4.10 AliExpress
  • 5. Preparing for business and key challenges
    • 5.1 Fulfilment Options
    • 5.2 Returns
    • 5.3 Digital Marketing and Localisation
    • 5.4 Payments
    • 5.5 Achieving Sufficient Customer Service
    • 5.6 Scaling Operations
  • 6. Relevant e-commerce services providers and partners
    • 6.1 Marketplace Integrators
    • 6.2 Digital Marketing Services
    • 6.3 Third-Party Logistics Providers
  • 7. Appendix
    • 7.1 E-Commerce Checklist
    • 7.2 Helpful e-Commerce Definitions
    • 7.3 Trade Commissioner Service Resources

Get help from the Trade Commissioner Service

Please contact the trade section of the Mission of Canada to the European Union at if you have specific questions or are facing issues about an EU-level regulation or legislation. Contact the Trade Commissioner Service for information about business opportunities or potential barriers to trade. Trade Commissioners in one of our 24 offices in the EU will assist you.

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