Data from the latest PMR report “Online retail of services in Poland 2022. E-commerce market analysis and development forecasts for 2022-2027” indicate that the market value of online sales of services in 2021 amounted to PLN 48.7bn. The year 2021 saw a rebound after the period of a marked decline caused by the pandemic and came close to the value reached still in 2019. PMR’s forecasts indicate that the market will grow at a double-digit rate in the baseline scenario, with the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the market reaching 12% between 2022 and 2027.

According to PMR, the total value of the e-commerce market in 2021 exceeded PLN 111bn. The sales of goods account for the bulk of the market: in 2021 goods made up 56% of purchases and the remaining 44% represented services bought online. Retail trade in services, unlike sales of goods, clearly declined due to the pandemic. Some market sectors experienced a significant decline in sales in the first few months of the restrictions, as they were not prepared for operating in the online channel. The prolonged restrictions forced companies to become more active online, which helped them, at least partially, to make up for the decrease in sales compared to the pre-pandemic levels, and in some cases to significantly improve the results.

Wartość rynku handlu internetowego 2022 ENG-01
Wartość handlu usługami 2022 ENG-01

Telecoms sector as the biggest winner in the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly changed the structure the online services retail market. PMR’s forecasts indicate that for some categories a return to the pre-pandemic levels is not entirely possible or will be delayed significantly.

On the other hand, some industries benefited from the pandemic-related restrictions and reduced population mobility. The years 2020-2021 saw faster growth in, e.g. expenditure on video games and the value of the pay TV market but also in other areas such as digital music, e-books or adult content. In the case of non-subscription purchases, the categories related to transport and mobility, which recorded heavy losses in 2020, were mainly the ones that saw recovery in 2021. Telecommunications services, on the other hand, are the category that gained the most in online subscription purchases.

Single purchases will maintain their lead over the subscription model

The value structure of the e-commerce market is roughly equally divided between sales of single services and those in the subscription model, with a slight predominance of the former. It is worth noting that the situation in Poland stands out against global trends, with service sales in the European subscription market accounting for about two-thirds of the value in 2021.

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The situation in terms of volume is fundamentally different from the value structure. In 2021, the total number of services (RGUs) ordered online was nearly 130 million, with almost two-thirds being single purchases. Additional 30 million subscriptions will be added to the market by 2027, but the single-purchase segment will see an even more rapid growth.

200 million services to be sold in 2027

According to PMR’s forecasts, the online retail trade in services in Poland will maintain a strong upward trend in the coming years. The market value will rise from PLN 48.7bn in 2021 to PLN 97bn in 2027. This represents an almost 100% increase. The market growth will be driven by high demand boosted by factors such as the good situation on the labour market and a real increase in the population’s income. In the long term, the market will be also stimulated by the fact that an increasing number of services are available exclusively via the internet.

By the end of the forecast period, Poland will have surpassed 200 million services ordered annually in the online channel. The subscription market alone, in terms of volume, will gain additional approximately 30 million RGUs. However, in PMR’s opinion, the vast majority of these will not be new services but the increase will result from a change of a distribution channel for the existing services. From the suppliers’ point of view, the sales and support in the online channel will have a positive impact on profitability.

The text is based on two PMR’s reports on the e-commerce market:

Online retail market in Poland 2022. E-commerce market analysis and development forecasts for 2021-2026

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