European B2C e-commerce market breaks through €500 billion mark

14 June 2016

The European B2C e-commerce market is this year expected to, for the first time in its history, break through the barrier of €500 billion in turnover, according to new research. Double digit growth in large e-commerce markets like the UK, France and Germany have presided over a boom period for the digital landscape, and according to experts, the ceiling has not yet been reached. The UK can, with an e-commerce turnover of €157 billion, call itself the runaway leader.

The online retail market, has, in recent years, enjoyed rapid growth. The e-commerce market is growing its market share against, and next to, physical shopping, because consumers increasingly expect to shop anytime and anywhere using their laptops, smartphones or tablets. International research shows that especially the markets of the United States and China are enjoying rapid growth, where conditions are favourable for the emergence of the e-commerce market, but also many European countries are seeing the market boom, belonging, according to a study, to the top 20 most attractive e-commerce markets in the world. 

New analysis by Ecommerce Europe – an alliance of players in the European e-commerce sector – shows that in recent years there has been a sharp increase in the turnover of the European e-commerce market. Last year the market reached €455.3 billion, on the back of 13% growth, and while this is impressive double-digit growth, the growth rate was even higher in 2013 and 2012. Between 2011 and 2015 the revenue of online B2C players took off with a compound annual growth rate of 17% (‘CAGR’) – an increase of over €200 billion in online sales.

Size of the European B2C e-commerce market

The researchers, however, predict that the ceiling has by no means been reached. Although growth is expected to weaken somewhat further, the market will continue to show double-digit growth in 2016, with a projected increase of 12%. This would mean that the European e-commerce market will, in the current year, for the first time achieve a turnover of more than €500 billion – more specifically €510 billion. Of this amount, Western Europe will make up the largest segment, with a total of €252 billion, while Central Europe is foreseen to account for €89.5 billion.

A comparison of the top 10 largest B2C e-commerce markets in Europe shows that the UK is out well ahead, with a turnover of €157.1 billion in 2015 – more than a third of the total European market sales. France follows in second place, last year the country saw sales of €64.9 billion, followed by Germany with €59.7 billion. Outside the top three sales of European e-commerce market is much lower, with fourth place Russia accounting for €20.5 billion. Spain closes the top five with €18.2 billion.

Top 10 largest B2C e-commerce markets of Europe

The Netherlands, with a total of €16.1 billion, is in seventh place, just below Italy, with €16.6 billion. The remainder of the top 10 includes Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. Across the board, the most is spent on travel and holidays, but hardware is also quite often purchased online. The B2C e-commerce market indirectly creates 2.5 million jobs, the researchers estimate, realised by around 750,000 online shops and ventures.

% of GDP
The authors also looked into the total value of e-commerce sales relative to a country’s economic output – Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Again, the UK leads the pack: the e-commerce market amounts to a total of 6.1% of total GDP. Denmark is in second place with 4.4%. The third place spot goes to Finland, where 3.5% of GDP comes from online sales, followed by France, with 3%. The Netherlands is again in seventh place, where 2.4% comes from online sales of GDP in our country. The rest of the top 10 consists of Ireland, the Czech Republic, Norway and Sweden.

European B2C e-commerce market

Despite the growing importance of e-commerce on the global retail landscape, recent surveys reveal that it is not singularly important. Consumers increasingly expect retailers to provide an omni-channel experience, whereby they can use all the different channels, including offline. The physical store therefore, remains important for omni-channel strategies. The trend for both is visible in practice; for example, in the US, pure play giant Amazon recently opened physical bookstores.

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Project management industry adds £156 billion of value to UK economy

15 April 2019

Project management has grown into one of UK’s largest areas of business over the past decade, amid the increasing ‘projectification’ of work. With the gross value added to the UK economy by project management estimated to be £156 billion, this trend is likely to continue in the coming era.

Despite the huge success of project management in recent years, until now there has been relatively little data available on the size of project activity. As a result, there has been a great deal of debate on things like the number of people involved in the sector, the number of projects, and how it contributes to economic output. Due to this need for clarity, APM, the UK’s professional body for project management (the largest organisation of its kind in Europe, with 28,000 individual members) commissioned economists from PwC to shed light on the industry's economic impact.

The research concluded that the profession makes a more significant contribution to the UK economy than the financial services sector. 2.13 million full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) were employed in the UK project management sector, generating £156.5 billion of annual gross value added (GVA). In comparison, the financial services sector contributes £115 billion, and the construction industry adds £113 billion.

Gross value added to UK economy

Commenting on the discovery, Debbie Dore, Chief Executive of APM said, “Project management runs as a ‘golden thread’ through businesses, helping to develop new services, driving strategic change and sector-wide reform.”

Who is a ‘project manager’?

To reach these estimates, PwC’s researchers used detailed models to map out the value of project management activity. They ultimately defined relevant ‘projects’ as “temporary, non-routine endeavours or rolling programmes of change designed to produce a distinct product, service or end result… [with] a defined beginning and end, a specific scope, a ring-fenced budget, [and] an identified and potentially dedicated team with a project manager in charge.”

Building on this, they then went on to define what the act of project management actually is. The job consists of applying “processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience” so that clients can meet their objectives and bring about planned outputs or outcomes. The analysts added that this includes “initiating the project, planning, executing, controlling, quality assuring and closing the work of an identified and dedicated team according to a specified budget and timeframe.”

Importantly, it should be noted that the profession is not exclusive to only roles explicitly labelled as ‘project manager’, but to any role where specialist project management skills are used. This means that across sectors these roles can have very different titles, from the self-explanatory contract managers of procurement, or the campaign managers of advertising, to the likes of festival co-ordinators in the events sector, and many more. The roles in question also span all strategic levels of the profession, from strategic to tactical and operational positions.

Gross value added of project management profession

From a sector perspective, the financial and professional services, construction and healthcare industries make up almost two-thirds of the total project management GVA. At the same time, understandably, the UK Government has a huge project portfolio, which further drives the size of the GVA the sector contributes, thanks to megaprojects like HS2 and Crossrail.

Commenting on this to the report’s authors, Oliver Dowden, Minister for Implementation remarked, “Project delivery is at the heart of all Government activity, whether it’s building roads and rail, strengthening our armed forces, modernising IT or transforming the way government provides public services to citizens. Getting these projects right is essential if we are to ensure that we build a country that works for everyone.”

Throughout 2019, 26 major government projects were delivered, representing a fifth of the overall Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) of 133 projects. According to the IPA annual report 2017-18, these represented a whole life cost of £423 billion. In addition to this were a plethora of smaller scale projects, and those in early development.

Elsewhere, with the increasing digitalisation of the economy impacting entities of all shapes and sizes, IT and digital transformations tended to dominate the projects of the UK scene alongside new product development projects, with a respective 55% and 46% of organisations in the research sample having undertaken these types of project in the past year. At the same time, this varied across sectors, and unsurprisingly, in the construction and local government sectors, fixed capital projects were the main project type undertaken.


Looking to the future, 40% of business leaders expect project management will grow in the coming years due to the increased use of projects – or the ‘projectification’ of the UK. In a trend that has been witnessed elsewhere, organisations have to rapidly and continuously change in the digital age of business, driving the need for project management.

Outlook for project management services

An increased focus on value over cost – especially in the construction sector – and a forecast increase in the number of international projects are predicted to be key drivers of growth, according to the expert contributors. However, this will not happen in the absence of challenges; more than half of organisations expressed concern over the perceived impact of political uncertainty in the UK. Skills and capability shortages were also cited as a potential barrier by a third of organisations.

With regard to budgets, meanwhile, a third of those surveyed by PwC said they expect the size of project budgets will increase in the coming three years, while 40% anticipate a growth in project size. As the profession continues to mature, and as the recognition of the importance of good project management grows, it is expected that a greater proportion of project work will gain more distinct attribution to the profession itself, giving more recognition and appreciation to the role of the project manager.

Speaking on the findings of the study, Sandie Grimshaw, a Partner at PwC, concluded, “The project management profession is relatively new compared to some other professions, such as lawyers, teachers and doctors. However, as project management is a core competence vital to organisations in the UK, the profession is critical and will continue to grow in stature.”