Trends and Drivers of Change in the European Commerce Sector

Tine  Andersen

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Trends and Drivers of Change in the European Commerce Sector

The study Trends and Drivers of Change in the European Commerce Sector was undertaken by Danish Technological Institute, Centre for Policy and Business Analysis, for the European Foundation, European Monitoring Centre on Change (EMCC).

The European commerce sector (the distribution trade), comprising retail and wholesale businesses, employed almost 28 million persons in 2002. Almost 24 percent of the persons employed in the non-financial business economy were employed within the commerce sector. In recent years, new business models, technological development and modern distribution channels such as e-commerce solutions have had a significant influence on how the sector has developed and how it is organised. There are, however, considerable differences within the commerce sector, and as such the whole sector is highly heterogeneous.

Retail companies have focused their innovation strategies on the twofold goal of increasing their market share and improving supply-chain coordination. Firms may use mergers, the opening of new outlets, franchising contracts and inter-company alliances to increase their market-shares. Whereas in the past the main problem in retail was the efficient control of stocks and their allocation along the supply chain, today increasing importance is given to the creation of value and customer satisfaction as competitive factors, so that the concept of ‘supply chain’ is being replaced by that of ‘demand chain’. Some companies are therefore increasingly moving up-stream in the value-chain.

Companies in the European commerce sector face a range of political, regulatory, economic, social, competitive as well as technological challenges. What are the consequences of change, what new challenges arise for the companies in the sector, and how do companies in the sector respond to these challenges? These are questions that the study will seek to answer.

Aim of the study
The study aimed at improving the understanding and anticipation of change in the retail area, as part of the wider commerce sector, which also includes the wholesale area, in Europe.


Read the EMCC dossier on the European commerce sector.

Or download some of the individual reports here:

Mapping report


Company studies



Cluster studies