Why are these 10 online stores the most successful in Spain?

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✨ Post actualizado el 24/04/2024 por David Costarrosa

Successful stores in Spain
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More than 15.6 billion Euros.

That is the turnover that, according to an article published by the National Commission for Markets and Competition, e-commerce in Spain reached during the last quarter. 

This impressive figure represents a year-on-year increase of more than 25%.

Now, who are the most important players contributing to such impressive numbers?

In this article I will provide you with a detailed list of the most successful online stores in Spain.

You will probably be familiar with many of them, but I am sure there will be more than one that will surprise you.

Online shopping is part of our daily lives and today waiting for a package from Amazon, Zara or El Corte Inglés is no longer a big deal.

Nor should it surprise anyone that, according to the same CNMC article, the Fashion sector is at the forefront and has the highest percentage of turnover when it comes to online stores (in the service industry, the leading sector is tourism). 

The rise of e-commerce has transformed the way we shop, leading to a notable increase in the number of online stores in Spain. This change not only reflects an evolution in consumer shopping preferences, but also highlights the importance of adapting to new digital trends to stay relevant in the market.

Who hasn’t spent a few euros on a pair of sneakers, a T-shirt or a jacket to give as a gift?

In the search for the keys behind successful online stores, it is essential to observe how they adapt to the demands of the Spanish market. These platforms have not only managed to capture the attention of millions of users, but have also set new standards in terms of customer service, product diversity and online shopping experience.

Here, we will highlight what makes these stores role models for e-commerce in Spain..

The 10 most successful online stores in Spain

Analyzing the success of the top online stores in Spain not only allows us to understand what makes them stand out, but also offers valuable lessons on how to achieve and maintain a leadership position in the competitive e-commerce market. Below, we will explore in detail what makes these stores preferred by Spanish consumers.

Amazon, El Corte Inglés, Carrefour and Pccomponentes are some of the benchmarks in terms of successful stores when it comes to e-commerce in Spain.

In the following table I will give you a practical and summarized overview of each of them so that you can compare and learn their greatest strengths.

Apart from some exceptions, this table does not reflect global numbers, but the numbers of each store in Spain. 

NAMECATEGORYANNUAL TURNOVERNUMBER OF USERSMARKET SHAREMONTHLY SEARCHESAGE
AmazonMarketplace4+ billion euros (2021)300+ million (worldwide)21%16.6 million Founded in 1994. Operating in Spain since 2011
El Corte InglésMarketplace12.5+ billion euros (All businesses)11.6 million9.1 millionFounded as a corporation in 1940 and with a digital presence since 1999
CarrefourSupermarket10.4+ billion euros (2021)7.4 million9.6%5 millionThe First Carrefour opened in 1973 and online presence since 2000
PccomponentesElectronics564+ million euros (2021)300 retailers and more than 500 thousand orders1.5 millionFounded in 2005 and with its own marketplace since 2015
ZaraFashion1.5+ billion euros (2021)10+ million according to Inditex2.5% world share5 millionFounded in 1975 and with online presence since 2007
AppleElectronics360+ billion euros worldwide (2021)1+ billion users (World)15.9%823 thousandFounded in 1976
MediamarktElectronics2.2+ billion euros (2021)25%2.2 millionFounded in 1979. Since 1999 in Spain.
LidlSupermarket5+ billion (2021)5.8%3.3 millionFounded in 1973. Since 1994 in Spain
MercadonaSupermarket27.8+ billion euros (2021)1.8+ million online orders25.8%7.4 millionFounded in 1977
ZalandoFashion10+ billion euros48 million (Worldwide)11.7%2.2 millionFounded in 2008

Amazon, the undisputed king

To speak of Amazon is to speak of success.

Although below I will cover the American company in more detail, in this comparative chart we have used the Google Trends tool to show you the brand trend of the last 5 years between Amazon, El Corte Inglés, Carrefour, PcComponentes and Zara so that you can see the difference between the American giant and the rest of the stores for yourself.

Google Trends comparison of the most successful stores
Information source: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

The diversity and success of these online stores in Spain demonstrate the maturity and dynamism of the e-commerce sector in the country. Factors such as quality of service, product offering and user experience are key to customer loyalty and the sustainable growth of these platforms.

Why are they the most successful?

The common denominator among these successful online stores is their ability to innovate and offer services tailored to the specific needs of Spanish consumers. From digital marketing strategies to efficient shipping logistics, these platforms demonstrate that online success is a combination of several factors working in harmony..

First of all, we must clarify that here we are talking about success in terms of turnover, but it is true that these figures are the result of many other factors that, combined together, generate profits of several million euros per year in each store.

✊🏻 The power of the brand

As you can see from the table above, the brand name itself is one of the most important factors on the road to success.

For example, according to statistics from the Keywordtool.io tool, the keyword “Amazon” receives 16.6 million monthly searches in Spain.

This, without including the countless searches from variants of that keyword, such as: amazon prime, amazon black friday, amazon shopping, etc.

💕 Trust

Linked to the previous point, user trust is one of the most difficult things to achieve but once achieved, it is a passport with no expiration date.

It is much easier to re-sell a product to a customer who has already bought from you and has tried your product and service than to try to do so with another customer who has not yet done so and probably has doubts in their mind.

Each of these large stores has this advantage and there are thousands of users who even decide to save their credit cards so they don’t have to put in the numbers every time they want to make a purchase.

📞 Customer service

Customer service is another differentiating factor.

For example, for Jeff Bezos’ company, the customer is always right. That is why Amazon has designed a whole return and refund process in case a customer is not satisfied with the product they have received.

As a result of this, several of the stores that make up the list of the ten most successful stores have decided to replicate this approach.

🚚 Fast shipping

Following the example of Amazon, the emergence of Amazon Prime as a fast and priority delivery service has marked a watershed moment for e-commerce.

 

Consumer behavior, as a result of this, has changed, and so today they no longer want to wait up to 20 or 30 days to receive their package, but want to do so within the same week of purchase.

 

This leap in quality has also been reproduced by the rest of the large stores in Spain and is another reason why they remain at the top of the turnover charts.

Amazon

Google Trends Amazon
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

Amazon is, without a doubt, the main exponent of ecommerce worldwide.

Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, this American giant began its journey as a portal for selling books and with the goal of becoming “the world’s largest bookstore”.

Not only has it achieved that first goal, but it has also managed to become a source of inspiration for thousands of entrepreneurs and a fundamental bastion of ecommerce growth over the last 20 years.

Many competitors have crossed its path, but none has even come close to threatening its reign.

Amazon is today the undisputed king, with enough brand power to become strong in other branches such as, for example, the health business (Amazon Pharmacy or Amazon Care), streaming content (Amazon Prime Video) or even offering solutions for programmers and designers (Amazon Web Services).

Since 2011 it has been operating in Spain and in 2021 it increased its turnover by 4%, reaching a record annual turnover of over 4 billion dollars, so there is nothing to suggest that this true digital titan can be defeated in the short and medium term.

It has more than  300 million users worldwide and a market share in Spain of more than 20%, mainly driven by the 2020 pandemic.

Factors behind Amazon's success

👩🏻 The customer is always right

This concept is undoubtedly one of Amazon’s biggest success factors.

Jeff Bezos is a customer service obsessive and, if you have an Amazon seller account, you will know what I am talking about.

The demands on the seller are almost extreme. You can’t be late in shipping, you fight the price battle all the time, you have to refund your customer if they are not happy with the product or don’t like it without negotiation, and you have to bear all the costs of that.

Being honest and placing yourself in the consumer’s shoes, who wouldn’t want to buy a product from a place with so many benefits?

🏅 Amazon Prime

Amazon’s Prime service is a real treat. Same-day or 24-hour delivery, in-house logistics and generally friendly and attentive.

🚀 Innovation

Amazon is at the forefront of ecommerce.

 

Its business models, such as Amazon Prime, Merch by Amazon or Amazon Vendor are absolute pearls.

 

And not only that, it also has its own product line, a portal such as Amazon Web Services, the Kindle format, Fire TV and much more.

El Corte Inglés

Google Trends El Corte Inglés
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

Originally founded in 1940 but with origins dating back to before 1900, El Corte Inglés is one of the most recognized brands in Spain.

Its turnover in 2021, according to an article on its website, exceeded 12.5 billion euros and is the result of a structure that includes different companies, such as Hipercor and Supercor, as well as businesses in insurance, finance and travel.

From an e-commerce perspective, although its online store was launched in 1999, its big leap was in 2014, when it entered the British, Irish and Dutch market through the portal aimed at the general European public.

Today, it has more than 11 million users primarily based in Spain and Portugal.

In addition, on its portal you can buy products from leading global brands such as Nike, Apple, Samsung, Polo or Tommy Hilfiger.

Factors behind El Corte Inglés's success

🙌🏻 Flexibility

As we have said before, El Corte Inglés is a store with a history dating back almost 100 years.

 

One of its great strengths has been its ability to adapt to the needs of its customers according to each era.

 

In other words, a person who visited the store in 1963 is not the same as a person in 2023, for example.

📞 Superior customer service

With the aim of providing superior customer service, El Corte Inglés has highly trained staff to resolve doubts and queries in each service area. This is one of the great differentials with respect to other brands.

 

For that reason, each of the incidents that arise both in its physical stores and through the online channel are answered with authority and resolved quickly.

💳 Ease of payment

El Corte Inglés has its own card that allows you to buy products and delay your payments in order to give the customer added value at festive times such as Christmas or Mother’s Day.

Carrefour

Google Trends Carrefour
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

This French giant is recognized worldwide for being one of the pioneers of the hypermarket format, since in 1948 it opened its first store selling consumer products at wholesale prices through direct sales.

But it was not until 1973 that its history in Spain began.

The first Carrefour supermarket was officially opened in El Prat, Barcelona, and it also initiated the concept of hypermarkets in the country.

Its initial expansion was achieved quickly thanks to its partnership with the Pryca chain, owned by the March group.

Today, its loyalty program “Socios Carrefour” has more than 7.4 million users and is the largest in Spain.

Its success is based on discounts and exclusive benefits for all members not only in offline stores but also those on Carrefour Online.

Its annual turnover exceeds ten billion euros and currently receives, in Spain alone, more than 5 million monthly searches on Google with the keyword “carrefour”.

Moreover, according to El Independiente, its market share has risen by 0.7% to 9.6%.

🤝🏻 Customer loyalty

One of Carrefour’s great successes has been the loyalty system through its Club Carrefour Card, which also has variants and discounts depending on the type of customer: young, family or over 60.

🛒 The Carrefour Express business model

The model launched in 2007 has been a resounding success, enabling the brand to keep its market share intact and even increase it.

Since its launch, the Express format has established itself as a solution for its customer community to scale to 1,000 stores across Spain in 2022.

🏢 Its franchise system

The explosion of the Express model has been a fundamental pillar and has been sustained, mainly, by its franchise model.

 

As stated in the article published in Infofranquicias.com, of the total number of Carrefour Express stores, 90% are operated under the franchise system.

 

And not only that, 85% of these franchises are family-run.

PcComponentes

Google Trends Pc Componentes
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

Founded in Murcia in 2005, PcComponentes is one of the largest IT stores in Spain.

During the 2020 pandemic, it reached a turnover of more than 640 million euros thanks to the explosion of ecommerce and remote work, which has made it a major competitor of the behemoth that is Amazon.

In its last fiscal year, sales reached 547 million euros and monthly Google searches currently exceed 1.5 million.

It currently has an affiliate program and has also doubled its number of sellers, totaling more than 300 nationwide.

The Murcia-based company is especially renowned for its great customer service, which has led to over 700,000 customer reviews on its online store with a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Factors behind PcComponents' success

💸 Affordable prices

One of the brand’s greatest successes has been their pricing policy. Since its inception, they have been inclined to set very competitive prices with low margins with the aim of thus attracting more consumers.

🤖 Implementation of Aunoa

Customer service and advice are two very important aspects in the IT and technology sector.

With the aim of streamlining that process, PcComponentes has decided to create its own artificial intelligence software which it has called Aunoa.

Thanks to this, you will be able to resolve doubts and queries 24/7 both on its portal as well as in the service via WhatsApp.

💻 SEO as a leading player

The success of PcComponentes is not only based on its more than 500 million euros of turnover, but also on a meticulous and demanding SEO strategy that they have been implementing for some time.

This strategy has led the brand to compete, on an equal footing, with giants such as Amazon through the organic positioning of the most competitive keywords in the sector.

Zara

Google Trends Zara
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

The flagship brand of the Inditex group, Zara is the Spanish fashion giant. It was created by Amancio Ortega and Rosalía Mera in 1975 and, since then, it has had a phenomenal climb that has allowed it to currently reach 2.5% of the global fashion market share.

Its turnover exceeds 1.5 billion euros in Spain alone and monthly searches exceed 5 million.

Its online store was launched in 2007 and, according to Modaes.com, it is estimated that in 2019 it had already exceeded 10 million customers in Spain.

Factors behind Zara's success

🌍 Global presence

Zara is the flagship Inditex brand. It has more than 6,000 stores distributed in more than 80 countries and in key cities in the fashion world such as London, Paris, Rome or New York.

👗 High product rotation

One of Zara’s distinctive traits is that it usually launches a large number of new items on the market. After that testing, only the best-selling products are the ones that continue to be manufactured.

This triggers a sense of urgency in the customer to buy since, obviously, they don’t know if the item will be manufactured again.

📅 New collections all year round

While most brands present their collections in “autumn-winter” and “spring-summer”, Zara updates its collections every two weeks.

By doing so, within the same collection, it creates micro collections that speed up its stock renewal and keep its customers attentive to the brand.

Apple

Google Trends Apple
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

The company founded by Steve Jobs in 1976 has become one of the largest exponents of sales of cell phones and accessories worldwide, which has allowed it to gain a 15.9% market share.

According to a Statista publication, its annual turnover exceeded 360 billion euros in 2021 setting a new record for the brand.

More than 1 billion people worldwide are Apple users on its different platforms and its operating system IOS has reached 27.6% of the market share in terms of mobile operating systems.

Factors behind Apple's success

✊🏻 Brand power

If there is one thing that has brought Apple to where it is today in the world of technology, it is its name. Apple is synonymous with design, quality, modernity and innovation.

These are the pillars on which Steve Jobs built his empire throughout his career at the company.

👩🏻 Being attentive to customer needs

Another of Apple’s strengths has been to always be one step ahead when it comes to meeting the needs of its customers.

 

For example, as confirmed by EAE Business School, they were the first to eliminate the keypad on cell phones, offering a solution and changing the paradigm of mobile telephony since, as a result, the rest of the brands have had to modify the design of their smartphones to adapt them to what Apple had done.

⭐ Quality over quantity

Apple does not offer a varied catalog in terms of quantity of products, but rather an eximious quality in each of them.

We all know that when you buy an Apple product, you will be able to use the device for several years with virtually no problems or failures.

MediaMarkt

Google Trends Mercadona
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

The German chain was founded in Munich in 1979. It began its operations in Spain in 1999 and today has more than 100 physical stores throughout the country.

According to the company’s website, it has 7,000 employees in Spain and a turnover of more than 2.2 billion euros in the last fiscal year.

In addition, according to an article published in Sonitron, the digital store already accounts for 22% of annual turnover (about 500 million euros).

To further boost these numbers, the company estimates that it will invest heavily to increase its stores to 150 by 2025 with the aim of bringing its turnover closer to 3 billion euros.

Factors behind Mediamarkt's success

📈 Personalized experience

As confirmed by Coobis.com, Mediamarkt has taken a step forward in its dispute with PcComponentes for the leadership of the sector through its personalization program designed by the company Dynamic Yield.

🧾 Lead capture through personalized forms

Lead capture is the first step towards customer loyalty. Mediamarkt has gone a step further by offering a personalized subscription form based on the user’s gender and location.

🎯The customer at the heart of its strategy

We have made omnichannel our strongest offering, we want our customers to feel that they have at their fingertips any product or service, either through physical stores or through their online store, in the shortest possible time and with the maximum convenience.

 

That is how the company itself defined, in an interview for Alimarket.es, its success strategy based on each customer having access to what they need from any contact channel.

Lidl

Google Trends Mercadona
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

The German giant has been operating in Spain since 1994 with steady growth. It is already in third place in terms of market share with 5.8%, pushing Dia into fourth place.

Its annual turnover has exceeded 5 billion euros and a large part of this comes from its online store, launched in 2000, which has become a fundamental bulwark for the company with a turnover of 1.7 billion euros in the last financial year.

The outlook for the future is very encouraging.

According to an article in El País, the German company will invest close to 1.5 billion euros by 2024 in order to consolidate the opening of new stores in different parts of Spain.

Factors behind Lidl's success

🎯 Hard Discount strategy

Lidl has always been known for offering deep discounts on its private label products. However, that posed a stumbling block when it began its journey in Spain, in 1994.

People associated the low price and private label with poor product quality.

From a well-organized campaign with the slogan “Lidl, quality doesn’t have to be expensive”, it began to gain ground until it became one of the largest supermarket chains in the country today.

🍊 Local Spanish products

Another of Lidl’s success stories has been the sale of local Spanish products.

That is, each store, regardless of where it is located, has specific local products according to its location.

This differential has been very well received by consumers and has also boosted the work of local farmers and livestock breeders.

✂ Elimination of unnecessary costs

If you go to a Lidl store, you will notice that the presentation of the products is quite different from other supermarket chains.

That is characteristic of the brand and absolutely intentional.

Lidl is obsessed with offering the cheapest price and that is why they have decided to reduce the cost of decorating the store as much as possible in order to offer the customer a highly competitive price while maintaining profitability.

Mercadona

Google Trends Mercadona
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

Spain’s hypermarket giant opened its doors in 1977 thanks to its owner Francisco Roig Ballester.

Its phenomenal rise has led it to become a big fish and break turnover records in 2021, exceeding 27.8 billion euros and receiving more than 1.8 million orders.

In addition, it has managed to take 25.8% of the sector’s market share thanks to its more than 1,500 supermarkets throughout Spain and a workforce of nearly 96,000 people.

Factors behind Mercadona's success

✅ Offering what the customer wants

Mercadona’s objective, according to Javier Alfonso, writer of the book “Historia de un éxito: Mercadona”, has been to focus all its efforts on satisfying the needs of the customer.

The customer is the sole focus and, from there, the pyramid is inverted.

For the customer to be satisfied, the stocker and cashier also need to be satisfied.

📈 Progressive expansion

Without going crazy, Mercadona has been gaining ground throughout Spain. It started in Valencia, then Andalusia and, from there, it has been expanding throughout the different regions of the country until reaching Ceuta in 2018.

In the same book, Alfonso describes a very particular analogy.

Roig has managed to turn Mercadona into the go-to supermarket. Just as thousands of people look for a Mcdonald’s to eat anywhere in the world, many Spaniards ask for a Mercadona every time they arrive in a new city in Spain.

🥫 Hacendado, the successful brand

Although it may not look like it, Hacendado is a private label brand of Mercadona.

However, its success is so great that it could even be treated as an independent brand.

The good reputation of Mercadona’s brand par excellence is based on a magnificent price-quality ratio, which allows consumers to choose Hacendado over other brands that are a priori better recognized nationally or internationally.

Its pizzas, ice cream and cookies have managed to position itself among the main products consumed by Spaniards in recent years.

Zalando

Google Trends Zalando
Source of information: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends).

A pioneer in the online fashion sector since 2008, Zalando today enjoys a not inconsiderable 11.7% of the market share, according to an article published by Lapublicidad.net.

In addition, it has more than 48 million users worldwide, which makes it an unquestionable leader in the fashion industry and a giant that is growing year after year.

Its turnover exceeded 10 billion euros in 2021, which is a record in sales since its launch.

Moreover, as stated by the Fashion Network website, the European brand expects to continue on a course of continued growth with the goal of reaching 14 billion during the 2022 financial year.

As a 100% digital brand, Zalando’s website is a real gem. Names such as Adidas, Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren, Levis or Nike are featured on the front page.

In addition, browsing offers an absolutely incredible personalization based on the history of each mobile or laptop.

The goal, of course, is to offer the user a short path full of items of interest to them, not to mention that every purchase comes with a free return in case of any inconvenience.

Factors behind Zalando's success

🚀 Innovation

Zalando has taken an innovative approach to its business, such as implementing augmented reality technology in its mobile app that allows customers to see how products would look on their body.

🤳🏻 Use of influencers

On the path of adapting to new trends, Zalando has collaborated with several fashion brands and influencers, which has helped to increase its visibility and attract a wider audience.

👟 Wide selection of products

Zalando offers a wide selection of fashion products from different brands and styles, allowing customers to find what they are looking for.

More data on SimilarWeb

To give a true picture of what each of these stores and brands represent for Spain, we are going to use SimilarWeb.

What is SimilarWeb?

It is a tool that helps to analyze the competition and allows you to know the number of visits, the ranking, the sources of traffic or the bounce rate of a given website.

Here is a link to a full report on each of the 10 brands we have analyzed above, so that you can draw your own conclusions about these true giants of Spanish business. Click on the logo of the brand you want to know more about.

Conclusion

As we have seen in this article, the success of these brands is no coincidence.

Each of them has its own history, years of experience, quality products and, in general, good customer service.

Amazon is, without a doubt, the leading exponent of ecommerce worldwide. Its numbers continually break records and its reign seems to grow year after year.

Meanwhile, Mercadona, Carrefour and Lidl lead the hypermarket and supermarket industry and continue to add expertise and quality staff to each of their online stores. The food consumption sector will be one of the strongest points over the next few years.

Zara and El Corte Inglés are at the forefront of fashion in a hybrid conjunction between the online and offline worlds, while Zalando has demonstrated that the user experience is something that the rest of its competitors need to learn from.

Apple faces the difficult task of gaining ground in the field of mobile operating systems, where Android is the absolute ruler.

Moreover, PcComponentes has decided to invest in the work of more than 400 Spanish SMEs and has created Unilae, a 100% Spanish marketplace whose aim will be to try to overshadow a giant like Amazon.

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If you have an online store, just sell and we will take care of your orders.

2 thoughts on “Why are these 10 online stores the most successful in Spain?”

  1. I found the cases of PcComponentes and Mercadona very curious, especially the second one, as its a supermarket that has experienced considerable growth. Good article.

    1. David Costarrosa

      Hi Sam. Absolutely, both are examples of admirable national companies. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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