Tips for a successful expansion to Spain

Spain is one of the biggest economies in Europe with an up-and-coming online market. It is the third-largest B2C ecommerce market in Europe, right behind Germany and France. With currently around 40 million people actively online, Spain is an attractive destination for international sellers.

Understanding the Spanish market

Spain has seen lower adoption rates of ecommerce than some other European countries, but is showing healthy signs of expansion over the last years. In 2017 and 2018 alone, the ecommerce market has experienced a 17% increase. Recent research shows that 79,3% of Spanish internet users between the ages 16 to 64 purchased something online over the last month - even ahead of the Netherlands, Belgium and France. And, there is still room for growth. Studies suggest this movement to speed up, especially due to the latest developments caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The current ecommerce market in Spain appears to be dominated by international marketplaces such as At first glance, this may seem like a barrier to international expansion in the region; however, this market is heavily driven by younger generations. As is typical for Gen Z consumers, they are open to new products and services, and trends suggest shying away from larger global goliath brands. Also, studies show that in 2019, 61% of Spanish online shoppers have already made cross-border purchases, signaling their general openness towards international brands and shopping platforms.

The payment landscape in Spain

Cash is still king in Spain. However, as discussed in our article on the effects of Covid-19 on ecommerce, the pandemic accelerated the shift from retail to ecommerce by up to five years. Consequently, Spanish contactless and online payments are rising increasingly. In addition to cash, digital wallets such as PayPal and Apple Pay, debit cards, and credit cards are commonly used payment methods in Spain. Experts even expect digital wallets such as PayPal to be the leading payment method in 2021.

The profile of the Spanish customer

When you want to expand your market to new countries, it is always important to know your audience.

Providing easy payment options, deals, promotion codes, and good customer service greatly influences the Spanish market. The convenience of home delivery is the determining factor for Spanish customers to choose online shopping.Spanish customers are careful shoppers - If they do not complete a purchase, that often has something to do with security and practicality issues.

The main reasons for Spanish customers to abandon their carts are:

  • Lack of choice of payment methods,
  • No free shipping and return options available
  • Having to provide too much personal data
  • Lack of trust based on missing information

Every transaction element in your shop for Spanish customers should be clear, understandable, and trustworthy.

Rules for a successful expansion to Spain

Based on the given statistics and characteristics of the average Spanish online shopper, we can conclude three golden rules that merchants should follow when planning to expand their business to Spain.

1. Let them choose their preferred payment method

One of the main reasons Spaniards abandon their cart is that they cannot pay with known and trusted payment methods. Studies show that Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal and Apple Pay are popular payment methods in Spain. Therefore, your checkout should include at least one of these methods. Being an acquirer for Mastercard and VISA and an international Payment Service Provider, MultiSafepay offers a mix of over 30 payment methods, including all the most popular Spanish ones.

2. Provide safe and easy checkouts

Offering safe and secure payment processes is one thing, but signalizing this to consumers to avoid mistrust is a different one, especially when you want to reach customers cross-border.

Studies have shown that many Spanish customers abandon their cart during the checkout because they are scared off by potential frauds. This might also explain why in Spain - in comparison to other markets - 2 or 3 step checkouts have a higher conversion rate than 1-step checkouts. Studies have shown that many Spanish customers abandon their cart during the checkout because they are scared off by providing too many personal details throughout the checkout being wary of potential frauds.

Besides functions for fraud protection, such as PCI DSS standards and advanced fraud filter setting, MultiSafepay is a direct acquirer and processor for credit cards, such as VISA and Mastercard - commonly used methods in Spain. By not relying on third parties to process payments, redirecting to external pages or additional window pop-ups can be avoided - and will increase your customers' sensations of being in a safe payment environment. Payment links are a useful tool for merchants to gain the trust of Spanish customers.

The introduction of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) as of January 2021 adds to this perception. Besides safeguarding credit card payments, SCA offers new user-friendly and intuitive ways for verification (e. g. pins and passwords), thereby preventing cart abandonments and drop-offs in conversion.

3. Make sure your shop has a mobile version

Mobile commerce has taken off to become dominant in Spain. 54% of all mobile users prefer payments via apps. Purchasing via mobile phones is set to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 17.3 percent to 2023, with 54% of all mobile users preferring payments via apps. Consequently, having a mobile version of your shop is highly recommended when you want to sell in Spain. With Progressive Web Apps you can easily optimize the mobile experience for your customers. This solution allows you to combine the advantages of webshops and mobile apps via only one platform.

4. Speak the language of your customers

Studies show that Spanish people generally prefer being addressed in Spanish. As language is crucial for this target group and a key driver to win their trust, translating and localizing your shop is essential. If you want to sell your products and services to Spain, communicate in Spanish! Offer as much information about your products in Spanish as possible - think of product description, photos, and customer reviews. As Spanish is one of the most spoken languages worldwide, this will increase your chance to reach even more potential customers.

Summing up

Based on the recent online shopping growth and the openness for cross-border sales, the Spanish market offers excellent potential for merchants wanting to expand their business to Spain.
For the Spanish market, talking your customer's language and building up trust is key. If you follow the golden rules laid out in this blog and keep the preferences and mentalities of Spanish customers in mind, you are well prepared to build up a Spanish clientele.

Do you have any further questions about expanding your shop to Spain or need assistance?

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