What you need to know when expanding to Europe

Sometimes it looks like cross-border ecommerce is an easy task. Just look at the success of global market places such as Amazon and eBay or the international expansion of European players like Asos or Zalando. However, it requires a lot of research, adaptation, flexibility and understanding of the new market to be successful.

Due to differences in cultural behaviours, it is impossible for online retailers to take their existing selling model and expect it to work abroad. This is the first and most important lesson Rick Kirk, sales director at B2C Europe, wants to teach online retailers. That’s why he wrote this piece for us, informing ecommerce players across the continent about the things you need to know when expanding in Europe.

Localize the shopping experience

Translating the language of the website content and displaying products’ prices in local currency are the first things you should do when expanding internationally. Offering the customer a localized experience reassures them that they can trust your business. For example, FreestyleXtreme, a company that sells sporting products online, saw its revenues almost double in a matter of months after translating its website into 13 languages and offering nine different currencies. And that’s also why Dutch omni-channel company Coolblue is almost ready to enter new markets in Europe. “The last hurdle is multilingualism”, CEO Pieter Zwart said this summer.

Understand payment preferences

There is a plethora of different payment methods when paying for online orders. In Italy, for example, the CartaSi credit card has 40% market share and over 7 million users, making it the most popular payment method. By contrast, in 2015, 56% of online purchases in the Netherlands were made through iDeal. Meanwhile, in Germany, where card penetration hovers at around just 20%, consumers pay for their orders via an open invoice.

Making sure that you are able to support these different payment methods is crucial to international expansion. If you do not offer consumers their preferred payment method, then they may not buy from you at all.

Target the relevant marketplaces

Where online marketplaces are concerned, UK based businesses might find it hard to believe that the world extends beyond eBay and Amazon. While these sites are well known, there are other European marketplaces growing in popularity. If you plan on expanding internationally, it is worth spending time exploring these sites to see if and how your products would fit.

  • France: the top 5 most visited marketplaces are Amazon, Cdiscount, fnac, eBay and PriceMinister.
  • Germany: consumers are likely to search on Amazon and eBay in the initial online search, and then move to alternative marketplaces Zalando and Otto.
  • Italy: Zalando is the biggest ecommerce site for Italians. Other popular marketplaces include Amazon, Euronics, IBS and BonPrix.
  • Netherlands: domestic sites Bol.com and Wehkamp.nl are more popular among Dutch consumers than Amazon and eBay.
  • Spain: Amazon and eBay are the most popular sites, but Privalia, Rakuten, Zalando and Spartoo are all growing in popularity.

Cater to different delivery needs

Last year, B2C Europe’s research found big differences in consumers’ delivery preferences from country to country. In the UK, the average consumer is willing to pay for next day delivery with track-and-trace on their parcels. The French on the other hand, prefer to collect their order from a local convenience store at their leisure.  These different delivery preferences were also shown by research from Metapack in 2015.

The research also revealed that delivery preferences and costs are sometimes enough to stop the consumer from completing the purchase. Dutch shoppers, for example, are particularly price conscious about delivery costs and state that if the cost is too high, they will abandon the order.

Read up on the import regulations

Customs taxes and import duties can add up when selling overseas. It’s important to consider including these costs as part of the product price to not deter customers. In addition to fees, there are regulations on products being sold across borders. For example, there are restrictions on perfume and other flammables being sold into the UK. One French company that sells health and beauty boxes to monthly subscribers found that due to perfume import regulations, it was obliged to offer different products in its UK packages. Make sure you keep a close eye on customs regulations and fees, now that Great Britain appears to be leaving the EU.

Source: E-commerce news

These are the biggest days for online shopping in Europe

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are only one month away and these days mean big business for online retailers across Europe. But in some countries these aren’t the biggest days for online shopping. In the Netherlands and Austria for example, most online revenue is expected to be generated on December 12. See what the biggest days are for online shopping in Europe.

new report by Adobe Digital Insights shows that Black Friday (November 25) and Cyber Monday (November 28) will be the key growth drivers of holiday spending in Europe. Holiday spending in Europe will increase by 10 percent this year, which is a little below the 11 percent estimate of the United States. Most money in Europe will be spent in the United Kingdom and Germany, who will both grow 10 percent to 27.1 billion euros and 22.9 billion euros respectively. Holiday sales in France are forecast to grow 11 percent to 14.3 billion euros.

According to ADI’s predictions, Black Friday will once again be the biggest shopping day across much of Europe. Especially in the Nordic countries, Black Friday has increased strongly over the last couple of years. Since 2013, sales on this day increased by 187 percent in this region, while elsewhere in Europe it increased by 66 percent during that period.

The biggest days for online shopping

ADI shared some online shopping stats by country. And these are the biggest days for online shopping:


Country Biggest day
The United Kingdom Black Friday (November 25)
Germany November 27
France Black Friday (November 25)
The Netherlands December 12
Belgium December 12
Sweden Black Friday (November 25)
Austria December 12
Denmark Black Friday (November 25)
Finland Black Friday (November 25)
Norway Black Friday (November 25)

Source: Ecommerce news

How to succeed in the Dutch and Belgian ecommerce market

The Netherlands and Belgium have a combined population of 28 million people, a gross domestic product of 1.08 trillion euros and English is spoken widely. The two countries offer an attractive market to international retailers looking to expand into new territories. A new guidebook helps companies who want to sell online in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Belgium grows faster than the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, 93 percent of the population shops online and the ecommerce market grew by 16.1 percent last year. In Belgium, 74 percent of its inhabitants shop online and it’s one of the fastest growing markets with a growth of 34.2 percent last year. Also in terms of cross-border ecommerce, Belgium is growing fast (35%) compared to the Netherlands (21%). Both Dutch and Belgian consumers love to shop abroad in countries such as the UK, France and Germany, although in the Netherlands consumers also shop abroad often in China and the US.

Ecommerce customers in the Netherlands

The most popular product categories in Dutch ecommerce are travel & tickets (38.96%), followed by telecommunication (12.82%), consumer electronica (7.84%), computer hardware and software (7.57%), clothing and shoes (7.48%) and media (6.36%).

More than 11 million Dutch have at least once bought something online. This is 92% of all active internet users in that country. In 2013 about 10.3 million Dutch people ordered something online, according to CBS. In total there were 46 million online orders placed, a growth of 10% compared to the same period one year ago. And in 2015 research showed there were 11.76 million people (aged 15 years or older) who shopped online during the first half of 2014.

Ecommerce customers in Belgium

Belgian customers primarily use cards and online bank payment methods to pay online. About 85% of online payments in Belgium get realized using online payment method Ogone. This payment provider gives customers to choose from different payment methods, including credit card payments and direct banking. PayPal is also being used. A study conducted in the second quarter of 2015 shows that the credit card was the most popular payment method during that period, used by 35 percent of online purchases. Bancontact/Mister Cash (30%) and PayPal (12%) ranked second and third.

Clothing and shoes are amongst the most popular products purchased online. About six in ten Belgians have bought online at least once, one in four Belgians order products online on a monthly basis. Almost half of Belgian consumers prefer ordering from a shop in the region or one they already know.

Source: Ecommerce news and Ecommerceworld wide