Financial service provider Mollie has unveiled its European E-commerce Report revealing that Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) methods are on the rise due to the current harsh economic climate. 

The study surveyed 5,000 consumers from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK to provide insight into how European consumers’ shopping behaviours and provide advice to online retailers on how to adapt to their evolving expectations. 

One of the standout findings was that those surveyed were increasingly leaning on BNPL to fund their purchases, with over half (56%) of consumers stating they now use the payment method more than they did in the last 12 months. 

Whilst this may be due to the cause of rising inflation and a manageable way to split costs, Mollie found that 38% of consumers have never used BNPL, with a further 49% of Germans surveyed also never using the payment method. 

A staggering 99% of European online shoppers have changed their buying behaviour over the last 12 months due to the uncertainty of the economy in many European countries. 

Over half (51%) of respondents stated that they feel negative towards their country’s current economic situation with the UK coming out as the most negative country – overall, 61% of British consumers were unsatisfied with their current economic situation. 

Despite the negativity Mollie found there is a return of consumer confidence in the retail market, with 47% anticipating improvement in the next year, with 20% also believing it will “improve significantly”. 

“In our 2022 study we saw a great deal of uncertainty from European consumers as rising inflation and the cost of living crisis followed the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ken Serdons, CCO at Mollie.

“Although we don’t face quite the headwinds we did last year, economies across Europe remain in a precarious position. The good news for online retailers is as economic confidence returns, so is the confidence of consumers who expect to spend more online this year than last year.”

A portion of the uplift in retail confidence may stem from the diverse online retail platforms now provided to consumers, as 98% of those surveyed revealed they are using social media apps for retail research purposes. 

YouTube ranks first (47%) as the go-to social media platform for product research as the retail social media landscape continues to evolve with Instagram and more recently TikTok rolling out their own dedicated shopping functions. 

TikTok Shop, despite being pushed heavily by the platform, was only used by 15% of consumers for product research, but this figure climbs to 22% for UK consumers. 

Payment preferences are also becoming increasingly vital for online shoppers as four in five maintain that access to their preferred payment method is important when shopping online, with 42% stating it is “very important”. 

A quick and efficient checkout process is also a fundamental factor for consumers with 79% of those surveyed saying it’s important in order to complete the customer journey, as well as merchant capability, as 74% say that the support in order to complete the payment experience is suitable to their needs. 

Sanders added: “As spending increases, ecommerce businesses need to evolve their customer acquisition and retention strategies. 

“This involves providing diverse payment choices, streamlining the checkout experience, and ensuring their products are discovered and well-reviewed on consumers’ preferred social media platforms. 

“It’s clear that buying behaviour is changing rapidly, and ecommerce companies need to know how to successfully navigate the ever-evolving economic landscape, convert customers, build loyalty, and supercharge business growth.”