The last five years have seen users of JCB credit cards increasing their spending on European e-commerce such as online retailers, pandemic notwithstanding.

Between 2016 and 2019, how did European retailers fare in Asia’s online spending habits? What insights can be gained from this period, compared to 2020 when the world migrated heavily to e-commerce?

According to the latest whitepaper released by JCB International Co., Ltd., the period before the global pandemic up to 2019 had showed impressive growth in virtual spending with European retailers from its Asian cardmember base. Online sales had grown by more than 300% across the continent between 2016 and 2019.

Another finding is that Chinese JCB card members had increased spend at UK department stores by 170% during the study period, but had shifted from travel to retail in 2020: retail accounted had risen from 11% in 2017 to 31% of sales in 2020. Sales at British department stores increased by 170% between 2019 and 2020.

According to the firm’s Managing Director, Tsuyoshi Notani: “E-commerce now offers such a huge opportunity with Asian card members that European retailers cannot afford to miss out. We believe in a collaborative approach to e-commerce and hope to offer every possible opportunity for consumers to complete their shopping journey with their payment network of choice.”

Other notable data

The following insights were extracted from JCB cardmembers spend in the region over a two-year period.

  • JAPAN: 73% of sales from Japanese JCB card members for European products were made online in 2017, but this had risen to 91% in 2020. Japanese card members also increased spending in the months of July and December, which correlates with the time when many Japanese companies paid out bonuses.
  • SOUTH KOREA: Spanish and UK retailers were popular with JCB South Korean members spending online. Over the past four years, South Korean JCB members’ online shopping has increased from 76% in 2017 to 96% of overall transactions in Europe. In 2020, Spain accounted for 34% of JCB members’ online sales with European e-brands, while the UK had increased its share from 24% in 2019 to 59%.
  • TAIWAN: This country’s card members dominated e-commerce numbers for Europe retail, at 98% of sales. This is up from 78% in 2017. Additionally, 2020 travel restrictions resulted in 30% of card spend going to retail purchases compared to 6% in 2017.
  • THAILAND: In 2020, 80% of transactions in Europe made by Thai card members were online compared to 54% in 2017. Amid the pandemic, retail sales jumped to 43% of their Europe transactions, up from 13% in 2019 and just 2% in 2017.

The whitepaper has attributed the rising trends in online sales going to European retailers to JCB card members’ lack of opportunity to travel to the region for shopping. The pivoting of European retailers to a stronger online presence also helped to facilitate card member access to the region’s products and services.

European e-retailers therefore, have a huge opportunity to tap into this market as a route to economic recovery and beyond, as long as they leverage omnichannel digital outreach avenues to ride the waves of digitalization.