The Oban Blog

Poland: largest economy in Central Europe. Opportunity for UK businesses?

With a population of 27.9 million, Poland boasts the largest economy in Central Europe, and the 6th largest in the EU. The e-commerce offering is slightly behind its European neighbours but shows very real signs of catching up.

In fact, it is estimated that Poland’s economy will join the G-20 list of the world’s largest by 2022. Based on the fact its GDP has almost doubled over the last two decades, it’s easy to see why.

The growth of e-commerce depends on many things, but internet access is paramount.  In 2016, internet penetration in Poland was at a steady 72.5%. By 2021, this figure is set to increase to 76.3% showing real signs of growth – a perfect opportunity for UK businesses to explore this neighbouring market.

On the whole, 53% of Polish internet users made a purchase online in 2015 – but how?

As of 2016, there are 15m smartphone users but according to a recent survey of weekly activity by Google, only 4% of the smartphone-owning population use their device to make a purchase.  A separate study of online shoppers indicated that 49% would prefer to use a computer or tablet to buy online.  Online sales as a percentage of the retail trade market are expected to increase by 1.2% in 2017, signaling healthy e-commerce growth.

Poland’s economy is strong. The country has made major economic strides since the fall of communism, especially since joining the EU in May 2004. In 2009, when all major European economies were decreasing because of the recession, Poland was the only European nation to experience economic growth.

Flexible delivery on the rise and social media is strong

When it comes to delivery, 61% of Polish e-commerce consumers prefer a courier, while 21% who are happy for a postal delivery choose drop-off to their home or workplace. Around 11% enjoy the flexibility of an automatic pick-up point – the only method that has increased in popularity – which allows consumers to collect their package any time of day.

Facebook is huge in Poland.  The social media platform will continue growing in the next few years, jumping from 15.33 million users in 2014 to 21.12 million by 2021. It’s also an extremely popular way for consumers to interact with businesses and review them.

“Over 90% of online purchasing decisions in Poland are influenced by reviews and social media. Facebook dominates as a social media platform of choice. However, the biggest shopping platform in Poland is Allegro, a marketplace similar to eBay or Amazon.” Krystian, Oban Local In-Market Expert (LIME), Poland.

Polish businesses seeking relationship with UK brands

Allegro is widely recognised by Polish consumers as the first choice for online shopping. The site receives over 57% of the country’s e-commerce traffic, making it the number one place for apparel shopping. Research shows that 60% of all top phrases entered into the Allegro search bar concern fashion brands. To meet consumer demand and increase its product range, Allegro is actively seeking relationships with UK brands.

Challenges faced by non-native brands entering Poland

Of the most visited e-commerce sites in Poland, several non-Polish companies such as AliExpress, Bonprix and Zalando feature in the top ten. For UK supermarket chain, Tesco, Poland is their biggest Central European market – and online shopping is on the rise.

Poland has expressed an active interest in UK brands. At the moment only brands such as Marks & Spencer and Next have developed a focus on Poland, but there’s opportunity for more brands. When Polish people who live and work in the UK go home, they wear UK brands, and this has created an interesting buzz around UK fashion retailers – the demand is growing.

In 2016, RetailMeNot estimates an average yearly spend per online Polish consumer of £231, an 11.8% rise in comparison to 2015.

Key takeaways before going to market:

    • Consider marketplaces: Allegro attracts 57% of country’s e-commerce traffic and is seeking UK brand relationships
    • Courier is king:  Delivery by courier is a must to meet online shoppers preferences
    • Huge rise in social media usage: 21.12 million Facebook users expected by 2022, consider how Facebook can contribute to building your brand awareness through paid media activity


Contact us today to see how we can help your business explore new markets like Poland.