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  • Emmanuelle Serrano

Who are the 250 champions of online retail in the fashion and beauty sector in Europe?



The "Top 250 Fashion & Beauty Retail Europe" is an annual ranking of the leading online fashion and beauty retailers and marketplaces across the European continent. This market, expected to reach €144 billion by 2026, is set to grow steadily over the next five years. It is predicted that more than a quarter of the fashion and beauty trade will be conducted online by then.


Cross-Border Commerce Europe is a European network and knowledge platform for all e-commerce and omnichannel players present in at least three European countries. It publishes the second edition of the "Top 250 Fashion & Beauty Retail Europe", an annual ranking which highlights the online fashion and beauty sector as a major segment.


The European online fashion and beauty market will generate sales of €122 billion in 2022 (including €45 billion in cross-border investment) and is expected to reach €144 billion by 2026, representing growth of 18%. This upward trajectory is supported by the presence of C2C marketplaces that offer sustainable second-hand fashion and resale options.


And the 5 leaders in fashion are..... Amazon, Zalando, eBay, AliExpress and Etsy


The ranking reveals the main players in the fashion and beauty sector, operating in 30 European Union countries (EU27+United Kingdom+Switzerland+Norway) via online platforms, mainly B2C and C2C sellers, excluding B2B sellers. The main cross-border players in the fashion sector are Amazon, Zalando, eBay, AliExpress, and Etsy. Although Amazon is the leader in cross-border e-ranking, Zalando has a larger share of the online fashion market (9.8%) than Amazon (8.3%).


Due to its strong performance in its home country, Germany, compared to other cross-border countries, Zalando's ranking is lower than that of Amazon, which boasts a more dominant cross-border presence.

The top 10 cross-border fashion companies in the European Union (EU) collectively hold over a third of the online fashion market share (33.84%). If we classify the top 250 companies according to their sector of activity, we find that Nike is the leading brand manufacturer, H&M the leading retailer, Amazon the leading pure player, and Exclusive Merchandise Products (EMP) the leading mail order company. What's more, when these 250 companies are ranked according to their dominant product categories, Zalando comes first in the fashion products category, while Notino takes first place in the beauty products category.


Other distinguishing criteria: country of origin, private or public holding, consumer preferences, etc.


In addition, the ranking of the top 10 players in different business sectors highlights the predominance of European companies in the retail category. Conversely, US-based companies predominate in the brand manufacturers and pure players categories.


The top 250 companies are evenly split between public and private holding companies. However, in the Top 10 holding companies, seven public holding companies come out on top, underlining the supremacy of public entities in the fashion sector. These public companies appear to be more successful than their private counterparts.


If we move on to the list of fashion marketplaces, Zalando comes out on top, while Sephora takes the lead as the leading beauty marketplace.

Fast-growing C2C resale marketplaces such as Vinted are showing substantial growth, capturing a notable 1.94% share of the online fashion market and forecasting further expansion in this area. Other promising competitors in this category include Taobao, Vestiaire Collective, Grailed, and Poshmark. eBay and Etsy, which operate both B2C and C2C models, also stand out for their commendable contributions, securing a place in the Top 5 of EU cross-border fashion companies.


Further analysis of the popularity of companies in specific countries such as the UK, France, and Germany reveals some intriguing trends. Among UK consumers, American and Chinese companies are the most popular. Conversely, German and French consumers show a stronger preference for European companies, as evidenced by the fact that 8 out of the 10 most popular companies are based in Europe and Germany, and 9 out of 10 in France.


In fast fashion, Cider and Temu follow in the footsteps of Shein, Zara and H&M


In 2023, two new competitors have emerged alongside Zara and H&M, posing a direct challenge to Shein:

  1. Cider is set to reshape the future of fast fashion. Launched in September 2020, Cider is a Chinese fast-fashion brand aimed primarily at Generation Z consumers.

  2. Temu operates as a marketplace, connecting consumers to countless sellers, manufacturers, and brands around the world. Its mission is to enable people to live their best lives through affordable, quality products that foster an inclusive environment. The platform offers deeply discounted products, mostly shipped directly from China. It is owned by Pinduoduo Holdings Inc (PDD).


Top 5 cross-border sports fashion brands


A significant proportion of the European population is actively involved in a variety of sporting activities, leading to a growing demand for sports fashion products. In the list of the top 250 fashion retailers, the main sports fashion players are Nike, Adidas, Converse, Asics, and Salomon. New Balance, Puma, Under Armour, and Reebok also hold strong positions. Nike is the leading brand manufacturer in the Top 250 list, confirming the popularity of sportswear brands within the fashion industry.


The total B2C online retail market in the European Union (EU) will be worth €729 billion in 2022, with fashion and beauty accounting for 17% of this. In 2022, total online fashion and beauty sales in the EU reached €122 billion, representing a 25% market share of the overall fashion market of €486 billion.


Although the online fashion and beauty market share is expected to grow modestly from 25% to 28% by 2026, this growth is affected by the current challenges posed by inflation. However, sustainability and digitisation trends are set to drive the expansion of the fashion and beauty trade. Emerging trends such as the metaverse, livestream shopping, personalisation, and second-hand fashion should support the growth of the fashion industry. The influence of these trends on the acceleration of online fashion sales over the coming years will be fascinating to watch.


Marketplaces play an important role in the online fashion and beauty trade, accounting for almost half of all online fashion and beauty transactions. Driven by economic and sustainability considerations, C2C resale commerce is growing, contributing to 12% of the online fashion trade. This share is set to increase further, accounting for almost a sixth of total online fashion sales by 2026. A substantial proportion of the gross sales volume (GSV) marketplace can be attributed to the C2C resale trade. By 2026, it is forecast that around a third of GMV marketplaces will be attributed to C2C resale.


- The summary in an infographic -

Top 250 Fashion & Beauty Retailers

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