The Rise of Cashback Rewards for Online Shopping in Europe

By Sanjay Dasani, International Business Development, Wildfire Systems

Sanjay Dasani - Global Banking | FinanceSanjay Dasani - Global Banking | Finance

Sanjay Dasani

Online shopping has exploded in popularity across Europe in recent years. While much of the initial growth centered around domestic retailers, consumers in some of Europe’s largest economies are increasingly turning to multi-national sites to find the products they want at the best prices. Cashback browser extensions that offer a percentage of money back on purchases have emerged as a way to further reward online shoppers for cross-border spending. 

While the online shopping cashback rewards industry is more mature in the United States, companies offering cashback, such as Rakuten, TopCashback, and Igraal have expanded internationally and are seeing rapid growth in the UK, France, and Germany. Rakuten launched cashback rewards for online shopping in May 2022 for consumers in Spain, Germany, and the UK. Since their UK launch in 2005,TopCashback reports they now have over 20 million members globally, having a presence in the U.S., Canada, China, India, and Germany, as well as in Australia as of early 2023. 

Cashback rewards in the United Kingdom 

With 87% of adults in the UK purchasing products online in 2021, the competitive UK e-commerce landscape has made those consumers enthusiastic adopters of cashback tools that allow them to score discounts and deals. Google Trends indicates that UK search demand for “cashback rewards” has grown 27% year-to-date vs. 2022. And as noted earlier, popular cashback rewards site TopCashback first launched in the UK, and currently enjoys close to 10 million average monthly site visitors. Its apps consistently rank in the top 50 most-downloaded UK shopping apps. TopCashback also delivers cashback rewards at 4,500 UK stores through its browser extensions and apps.

Along with TopCashback, Quidco.com has also become one of Britain’s most popular shopping rewards providers, providing cashback rewards via 5,000 retailers to over 10 million members. While smaller than TopCashback, Quidco.com still sees approximately 3 million visits per month. Quidco also offers desktop cashback browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Edge, as well as apps for iOS and Android.

Cashback rewards in France 

The volume of e-commerce in France has more than doubled since 2015. According to Trade.gov, in 2021, 41.8 million French citizens shopped online, which represents over 80% of French internet users. Rakuten launched an online marketplace in France which now offers cashback on purchases. As French consumers shift more of their spending online, cashback rewards companies are beginning to market their browser add-ons as an easy way to save money while shopping. 

French consumers are also getting smarter about earning cashback rewards for shopping online: Google Trends shows a 18% growth in French search demand for “cashback rewards” this year to date vs. 2022. In France, Igraal.com is a leading provider of cashback rewards for online shopping at over 1,800 online merchants. Igraal’s French site sees nearly 3 million visitors per month, and offers cashback browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, which are used by more than 600,000 consumers, as well as top-30 French iOS and Android apps.

Cashback rewards in Germany

While Germans have been slightly slower to adopt e-commerce than some of their neighbors, expansion is accelerating. Trade.gov reports that e-commerce penetration in 2022 reached 80% in Germany, the third highest worldwide. The organization also estimates the online population in Germany will increase from 62.4 million in 2020 to 68.4 million in 2025. This provides ample opportunity for browser extension cashback services to gain traction as online shopping activity increases.  

According to Google Trends, German search demand for the concept “cashback rewards” in 2023 is overall lower than in the UK and France, but year-over-year is 21% higher. Companies like Shoop.de have built a German user base by delivering cashback for online shopping at major retailers. Shoop has approximately 1.5 million visitors/month, and offers cashback from approximately 2,200 online retailers via German iOS and Android apps.

International cashback rewards growth

The growth of international online shopping presents a major opportunity for further expansion of cashback browser extensions across Europe. As participation in e-commerce grows, so will consumer’s interest in using tools that help them maximize savings and value. But where might we see the adoption of cashback browser extensions and other online savings tools grow even more?

Trade.gov cites the UK as the 3rd-largest ecommerce market in the world, after China and the U.S.  Entrenched players like TopCashback and Quidco are already demonstrating significant traction, having gained millions of users in under 2 decades. Looking forward, UK e-commerce is expected to grow by nearly 25% from 2023 to 2027, and Trade.gov indicates an expectation that users will continue to look online for the best deals and prices. If these companies (and even upstarts) continue to drive home the “get-the-best-price-online” message, we can expect to see the adoption of coupon and cashback browser extensions to grow in parallel.

Although Germany and France are smaller markets than the UK in terms of their ecommerce sales, they both represent key opportunities for growth. Germany’s e-commerce sales are projected to grow by 23.1% CAGR from 2023 to 2028, with ecommerce penetration reaching 87% of German households (up from 58% in 2023).  France is projected to grow more slowly than Germany and the UK, with 7.49% CAGR in ecommerce sales from 2023 to 2028.  

With the UK, France, and Germany presenting tremendous e-commerce growth opportunities, cashback shopping reward programs are well-positioned to see increased usage in these countries in the near future too. The key will be establishing trust among consumers who may be unsure about using browser extensions, but given the ever-expanding footprint of the current players, plus continued inflation and geopolitical instability, more consumers will likely seek value and save money when shopping online by taking advantage of coupons and opportunities to receive cashback on their purchases.

About the author

Sanjay Dasani heads up international business development for Wildfire. In this role, he oversees partnerships and market expansion across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. With over 20 years of experience in the technology and telecommunications industries, Sanjay specializes in identifying key strategic partners while also onboarding new relationships to drive business growth. An entrepreneur at heart, he has a passion for bringing innovative technologies to market across hardware, software, and services. Having lived and worked across multiple continents and cultures, Sanjay thrives on connecting people and ideas across borders.