Austria - Country Commercial Guide
eCommerce

Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.

Last published date: 2020-10-05

Austria ranks 13th among 28 EU countries in internet use at 86% of the population according to the 2020 European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).  Among these 7.6 million users, 72% (almost 5.5 million) shop on-line with leading purchase categories of clothing/sporting goods, electronics/media, publications/ebooks, and household items. 

eCommerce News Europe estimated that in 2019, the average annual spending per online shopper in Austria was $2,000, resulting in around $6 billion in revenue. Growing Austrian on-line shopping trends include use of smart phones and on-line purchases with local pick up points that save on shipping cost and allow convenient pick up times. An estimated two-thirds of in-person retail shopping decisions are influenced by digital advertising and eCommerce.  

In 2019, eCommerce was already expected to grow at a 16% compound annual growth rate  through 2021, according to eCommerce Europe, when it was further stimulated by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers were limited to supermarket and pharmacy shopping during the spring 2020 stay-at-home order, and even afterwards have been slow in returning to physical stores.  Older consumers needed to become more digitally savvy eCommerce consumers to access certain products.  Austrian eCommerce revenue growth in 2020 has been most driven by increases in food and personal care products (+26.7%), followed by furniture and appliances (+14.6%), according to Statistica.com. The full impact of the virus on Europe will be more visible in 2021, according to eCommerce Europe.

The leading on-line retail markets in Austria for 2019 were:  amazon.de ($810 million), tchibo/eduscho.at ($294 million), Unito group - universal.at quelle.at ottoversand.at ($281 million) and zalando.at ($270 million).  A local online shopping platform called “shopping.at” also gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as the demand for wider variety of available products increased.  

The preferred methods of payments for online shopping in Austria are debit and credit cards (28%), followed closely by both bank transfers (27%) and e-Wallet (27%). In addition to online retailers providing delivery, many are also opting for online orders or purchase from retailers, then picking up products in person.    

Austria’s transportation infrastructure is sophisticated, thus allowing for ease of delivery including in rural regions where one-third of the population lives.  Major international logistics firms such as LKW Walter Group, Schenker & Co AG and Kuehne + Nagel AG have bases in Austria. In 2018, Amazon opened its first fulfilment center in Lower Austria and added a second one in Vienna in August 2020.   

The Austrian Retail Association (Handelsverband) offers services and events to encourage ecommerce growth, including the upcoming virtual eCommerce Day in September 2020. 

The European Commission has been monitoring the digital progress of the EU Member State’s through its Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) reports since 2014. The 2020 report includes a European-level analysis of broadband connectivity, digital skills, internet use, digitization of businesses, digital public services, emerging technologies, cyber security, ICT sector and R&D spending. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important digital assets have become to the economy and how networks and connectivity have allowed daily work to continue. Details about Austria’s digital infrastructure and capacities can be found at: https://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?doc_id=66906 

Data Privacy under the guidelines of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and VAT considerations should be examined when establishing a eCommerce sales channel for Austria.  The EU’s VAT system is semi-harmonized.  While guidelines are established at the EU level, the implementation of VAT policy is the prerogative of each Member State. The EU VAT Directive allows Member States to apply a minimum 15% VAT rate, with some exceptions.   For details on the GDPR and EU eCommerce Directives, please consult the U.S. Commercial European Union Country Commercial Guide and Commercial Service experts at the U.S. Mission to the EU.