European online cross-border retail sales will top €40 billion by 2018, up from €29 billion this year. This represents an 11% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) according to Forrester’s latest five-year forecast, which defines cross-border buyers as consumers who deliberately buy retail products outside of their domestic market over the Internet. Today, cross-border sales account for 16% of all Western European online retail sales.

By 2018, 28% of Europe’s online retailers will sell across borders, using marketplaces like Etsy and payment service providers such as Adyen, Braintree, Digital River, First Data, and Global Collect to manage multiple payment preferences and regulatory landscapes. “Cross-border online sales growth will change the playing field for retailers of all sizes across Europe,” writes Forrester Analyst Michelle Beeson in her report. “Your future competitors won’t be just your peers in your home market; increasingly, they will be international players.”

The forecast also shows that most online cross-border sales are between European markets, rather than from a market outside Europe. In fact, by 2018, 83% of all EU cross-border buyers will choose to purchase from another EU country. The average annual cross-border online spend per buyer will increase from €363 in 2015, to €428 in 2018.

EU cross-border buyers are disproportionately from smaller, less mature eCommerce markets like Italy and Spain — where 42% and 41%, respectively, of online adults have ordered products from a website outside their home country in the past three months — looking for better value and product availability.

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