Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 triggered more than 1,000 companies to curtail their operations in Russia, the world’s 11th biggest economy. This revealed an imperative for global firms and online retailers to bolster their ability to anticipate geopolitical risk and build resilience. The global order still reels from disruptions related to the war in Ukraine, including those in energy, food security, supply chains, and, of course, e-commerce.

Black swans

Black swans are commonly known as unpredictable events with high impact. The full-scale invasion of Ukraine was arguably such a high-impact event. While black swans are inherently unpredictable, smart online retailers need to anticipate as wide a range of scenarios for the future.

Fashion e-commerce in Czechia is currently facing just such a black swan. High inflation, low income, and the not knowing what additional repercussions the continued conflict in Ukraine will bring, most definitely have an impact on offline and online purchasing decisions in this former Eastern Bloc state.

A little bit of history

The Czech Republic – today’s Czechia – historically had a robust democratic tradition, a highly-developed economy and a rich cultural heritage. When it emerged from over 40 years of Communist rule in 1990, it was the first former Eastern Bloc state to acquire the status of a developed economy.

National leaders were pleased to have won their right to self-rule, but quickly found that social, political, cultural, and regional differences caused wedges between the Czechs and the Slovaks. Rather than negotiate these differences, the state agreed to separate into two new countries in 1993.

Czechia joined the European Union in 2004. Communist rule had lasted since 1948, when the restored pre-war democratic system was overthrown in a Soviet-backed coup. The “Prague Spring” of 1968, when Communist leader Alexander Dubcek tried to bring in liberal reforms, was crushed by Warsaw Pact tanks.

In 1989, as the curtain was coming down on communism in the Kremlin, the dissident playwright Vaclav Havel emerged as the figurehead of the country’s “velvet revolution” and became the first president of post-communist Czechoslovakia.

In terms of modern economies, Czechia is therefore still a toddler, with the specter of strict Mother Russia still very much alive in the hearts and minds of the Czech people. The war in Ukraine is just a reminder of how quickly prosperity and freedom can change, keeping pockets tightly buttoned.

Joe Czech and fashion e-commerce

As a result, fashion is most definitely not one of the priorities in terms of what the average Czech consumer will do with their disposable income. The platform has been the top earner in the Czech Republic in terms of online sales for years. Other big winners in the segment are and, closely followed by some of the ultra-cheap providers from China and other low-wage regions.

Online shoppers look for bargains, will not pay more for sustainability, and don’t really care, who makes the clothes they buy or where they are made. These are major considerations for online retailers coming from e-commerce environments, where these product features are top priorities for consumers and all the necessary checks and balances have been put in place.

And of course: Czechs expect free delivery. They are also big believers in hand-me-downs, repairing clothes or refitting items to allow them to be worn for longer. Fast fashion or fleeting trends are not in their nature.

Fashion DIY websites with ancillary services, second-hand or swap portals, as well high-volume/low-cost items as sold by the German giants Aldi and Lidl online would be the quickest way for online retailers to enter this market successfully. Price comparison websites do very well in the Czech Republic. The top earners in that category are,, and

Luxury items for the top 1%

Having said all that, there is – as in every country – a market for luxury items, designer brands and unique brands for the top percentile. Prague’s high society is just as susceptible to exceptional products as it is in Paris or Rome. The most successful of these in Czechia is, which sells everything from high-end big name fashion and jewelry to pet supplies. One side effect of this hunger for high-end luxury items is the string of offline vintage shops in the old town of Prague, where fashion connoisseurs can find whatever their heart desires.

Looking to the future

On February 8 this year, the E-Commerce Prague conference will feature illustrious speakers to discuss some of the greatest challenges online retailers face in Czechia in the coming years. One of their top concerns: the opportunities projected for this up-and-coming market. After all, the Czech Republic is the 45th largest growing e-commerce market. Its CAGR is projected to grow by 9% (2023-2028).

International retailers can take advantage of the Czech market by offering a wider range of products, more delivery and payment solutions than local businesses. Even if the trend of COD (cash on delivery) payment method is still the most popular, with cash transactions constituting 36% of all e-commerce payments, international vendors should focus on offering card payment solutions, as these are projected to grow in the coming years. By ensuring secure digital payment methods and prompt deliveries, international traders can distinguish themselves in the Czech e-commerce landscape.

Bottom line

E-commerce and specifically fashion e-commerce in Czechia has had a comparatively slow start, but the future looks promising. Keeping an eye on the competition in terms of pricing and services offered will be the way forward.



autor_eurotext_100Author: Eurotext Editorial Team

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