The European e-commerce market accounts for 9% of total retail sales, and research says it’s expected to grow more than six times the rate of in-store sales through 2022. Shippers across the region will likely face new challenges with last-mile delivery and meeting consumer demands.
Much of what a brand does must align with consumer preferences and support an exceptional experience — that includes how customers receive their packages. European consumers prefer a pick-up, drop-off (PUDO) option over doorstep delivery, particularly in France (58%), Spain (50%) and the Netherlands (46%), according to a 2018 report by delivery management software company MetaPack.
Unlike the United States, with only four broad carrier options for shippers, Europe has a host of carrier options that range from large integrators to country postal operators — commercial or specialist. In fact, MetaPack’s research indicated that two-thirds of European retailers use between two and 10 carriers. This puts pressure on carriers to offer differentiated services such as same-day and next-day shipping, or alternate pick-up locations along with shipping updates regarding when customers can expect to receive their packages.
More than half of European online sales are generated in three key markets — France, Germany and the United Kingdom — and 26% of e-commerce sales in Western Europe are cross-border orders. Knowing this, there lies great potential for shippers to gain a competitive advantage by becoming efficient in cross-border shipping.
In order to expand their presence, companies may want to consider warehousing options or utilizing brick-and-mortar locations as fulfillment centers. They could also consider creating their own fulfillment network, or joining an existing one. As an example: Amazon provides sellers with Pan-European Fulfillment by Amazon centers to help reach the U.K., Denmark, France, Italy and Spain. XPO Logistics has also expanded its European last-mile operations with hubs across the U.K., Netherlands, Ireland and Spain.
The European e-commerce market is set to steadily increase. It’s prime time for shippers and carriers to reinforce a supply-chain network that supports cross-border shipping and an efficient final mile.
John Haber is founder and CEO of Spend Management Experts.
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