Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.
Electronic Commerce (eCommerce) in Greece has seen considerable growth throughout the last years and especially through the COVID-19 crisis where the Greek government has taken large steps in digitally transforming the country. The Ministry of Digital Governance has updated its digital strategy, the “Digital Transformation Bible”, which was first introduced in the pre-Covid era and is now expected to be developed through the 2020-2025 period. Focus is given to the adaptation of the single government e-cloud platform while facilitating the digital transformation of the marketplace. In 2019, a One-Stop-Shop platform was created to significantly decrease the time one needs to launch a business. The “Business Innovation Greece” and the “4th Industrial Revolution” are two funding schemes introduced by the Hellenic Development Bank in order to assist SMEs with their digital development.
eCommerce sales in Greece constantly grow and are estimated to reach $4,678 million in 2022. Despite that growth, eCommerce in Greece is less advanced than in other EU member States. The main reason, in addition to the prolonged economic crisis, is that Greece has not captured the benefits of ICT adoption and falls below the EU average in many ICT indicators defined by the European Digital Agenda. Improvement in digital access and expertise, especially internet penetration, website customization and digitization of businesses, would lead to greater growth in eCommerce.
Legal & Regulatory
For businesses already established in the EU eCommerce environment, there are no licensing requirements. For those not operating in the EU, a license is required, while to operate in Greece the company needs to register at the Greek Business Registry, which is supervised by the Ministry of Finance. Online sales are regulated by the European Union Directive on eCommerce 2000/31/EK. Since the directive does not cover all aspects of the eCommerce relationship from seller to buyer, all other aspects are regulated by the Greek Civil Code, and the legislation for protection of consumers. The Greek eCommerce Association (GRECA) has published all relative regulations pertaining Greek eCommerce in their website.
The e-Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC has created the basic legal framework for online services, including eCommerce in the Internal Market. The purpose of the Directive is to remove obstacles to cross-border online services in the European Union and provide legal certainty to business and citizens in cross-border online transactions. The Directive establishes harmonized rules on issues such as the transparency and information requirements for online service providers, commercial communications, electronic contracts, and limitations of liability of intermediary service providers. It also enhances administrative cooperation between the Member States and the role of self-regulation.
In, July 1st, 2021, the new VAT rules for e-Commerce were introduced in the E.U. The biggest change introduced was that orders valued less than $175 would not go through customs since all charges would have to be included in the price and paid by the companies directly to the respective countries. More details on the new VAT rules can be found on the European Commission website.
According to the latest data published by the Greek Electronic Commerce Association (GR.EC.A) the COVID-19 crisis measures increased the upward trend in online sales. The percentage of growth decelerated due to the end of the quarantine and the re-opening of physical stores although the COVID-19 crisis had positive effects on the country’s digital transformation. In prior years, online sales had a yearly growth rate of 15% while now that percentage is over 50%. Nielsen’s research shows that 22% of Greek buyers purchased for the first time through an online supermarket during the pandemic quarantine. Pre-COVID, only 4% of shoppers would choose a new store, while now that amount reaches 26%. This upward trend is also supported by investments announced by various key players who are looking into expanding their online marketplaces.A recent study by the Digital Transformation Observatory of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) shows that a company with an online presence has up to 20% more sales that a company with no presence. eCommerce revenue in Greece is mostly generated by the following categories: fashion (31%), electronics & media (25%), food & personal care (19%), toys, hobby & DIY (16%) and furniture & appliances (9%). Almost 60% of the population shops online while the market volume of the top 100 online stores has grown 71% since 2018.