Digital Density in Europe

This report explores the robust eBay selling communities operating in a wide mix of regions across Europe, whether viewed through the lens of geography, GDP per capita, or population, and how this is providing a hopeful counterweight to evidence that national capital regions and other urban centers are the only winners from the digital revolution. Two indexes are included that rank regions at the NUTS 2 level in EU Member States and their equivalent in the UK. One, called eBay Digital Density, is based on the per capita eBay selling activity carried out by registered eBay enabled small businesses. The second, called Relative Economic Advantage, is based on a region’s GDP per capita. While country-by-country, Europe’s national capital regions are nearly always first in key measures including GDP per capita and urban density, and often by a significant margin, eBay Digital Density presents a different and far more balanced picture. Our findings demonstrate that digitally-enabled small businesses in every region of Europe are succeeding, proving that technology and level playing field marketplaces are opening new opportunities for entrepreneurs - locally, regionally, nationally across Europe, and around the world.

Key Learnings

Minor cities and rural areas are emerging thanks to digitization. Independent small businesses are able to reach national and global markets through ecommerce, offering more choices to consumers and creating new sources of employment:
  • In 23 EU Member States (with more than one NUTS 2 level region) eBay Digital Density leaders average just 562 people per square kilometer, compared to 1926 for the 23 national capital regions.
  • While national capital regions top their country’s GDP per capita ranking 20 of 23 times, they only top the eBay Digital Density ranking 9 times.
  • 97 percent of all eBay-enabled small businesses in Europe are exporting; this rate reaches 100 percent in 22 EU Member States. This remarkable export success is far removed from traditional business operations where the comparable export rates are 6,5 percent in the EU and 6,6 percent in the UK.
Stimulating the growth of such areas should be a priority for European and national policymakers, for example by implementing public policies and investments that facilitate ecommerce access to SMEs.

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