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Expanding Your E-Commerce Business into Europe: What You Need to Know

As online shopping continues to redefine the modern retail experience, the opportunity to make your brand more accessible to international audiences is more enticing than ever before. With the e-commerce industry booming, an ever-increasing number of consumers is seeking a digital shopping experience from well-established global brands and growing e-commerce businesses alike.

If you’re looking to gain critical brand share in Europe and establish your brand in some of the world’s most lucrative markets, now is the time. In this blog, we’ll shine a light on what makes Europe so attractive for e-commerce business, as well as how your brand can establish itself in these new markets with exceptional logistical support.

Europe: An Exciting Opportunity for E-Commerce Brands

The European e-commerce industry is not only one of the world’s largest, but also one of the fastest-growing. Digital technologies have made it easier for brands outside of Europe to establish themselves in a cultural landscape ripe with new audiences, and reliable 3PLs are leading the way in providing these brands with the infrastructure they need abroad.

According to Eurostat, 75% of internet users in the EU used e-commerce platforms to buy products online in 2022. Even more pertinent, this number grew from just 55% in the space of 10 years, aided partly (but not exclusively) by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s clear that the heightened use of e-commerce platforms during the pandemic wasn’t a one-off occurrence; it’s helped to establish fertile ground for online retailers that continues to grow year-on-year.

What’s more, the value of Europe’s e-commerce market is estimated to grow to over US$1.1 trillion by 2026. European online shoppers are displaying a keen readiness to buy, and fulfilment companies like ILG are stepping up to take these brands to new levels.

Taking Your E-Commerce Business to Europe: Why Now?

As e-commerce in Europe continues to grow, so too will the opportunities for ambitious brands that are nimble and able to grasp opportunities. We’re seeing unprecedented growth year-on-year in an economic centre that, while geographically small, is outputting some incredible numbers thanks to a diverse customer base that has taken its shopping habits digital.

Graph showing estimated e-commerce sales growth in Europe from 2020-2026
Source: ecommerceDB

Of the world’s ten largest e-commerce markets, three are in the EU (Germany, France and Spain). While it’s no longer part of the EU, the UK remains an incredible force for online shopping, sitting third overall behind only China and the US (Source: Business.com).

How to Establish Your Business in European Markets 

While this data clearly answers the why, it raises the logistical question of how. Expanding a business – even one that operates primarily through digital channels – is no mean feat, requiring serious logistical expertise. 

To capitalise on this opportunity, it’s vital that you expand your brand into new cultural spaces and ensure that your order fulfilment in these spaces remains reliable. Fortunately, this doesn’t require the in-house structural and operational overhaul that many businesses make the mistake of thinking they need.

The solution? Working with a reliable 3PL with bases in EU territories and a proven track record of helping brands grow into these new markets.

Working with a European fulfilment provider will allow you to navigate the logistical hassle of expanding overseas. What’s more, an experienced 3PL can offer support on the legal side of the expansion, as well as ongoing international shipping support and account management to ensure you stay compliant and profitable overseas.

Are There Pitfalls to Expanding into Europe?

The biggest contributor to brands not establishing themselves successfully in Europe has time and time again been shown to be poor logistics.

Putting in all possible research and groundwork beforehand – or working with a trusted fulfilment partner who can – will mitigate any potential problems, ensuring your business hits the ground running overseas and has the logistical firepower to meet demand and support you as you scale over time.

In short, if you’re looking to break new ground in European markets, it’s time to bring in the experts.

How ILG Can Help Your E-Commerce Business Expand into Europe

At ILG, we have 30 years of fulfilment experience, which has helped us scale ambitious brands with total fulfilment support in Europe and beyond. We specialise in helping businesses establish a foothold in European markets, thanks to our dedicated fulfilment facilities located in Wroclaw, Poland. Ideally located just 50 miles from Germany, home to Europe’s second biggest e-commerce market, our EU fulfilment centres are close to Leipzig’s carrier hubs and Europe’s terminal for Chinese rail imports. In short, it offers brands the perfect foothold to establish a presence in the EU. From this facility, we store and process inventory for our customers, acting as an extension of their teams to fulfil orders made by their customers in Europe and enable continued growth. Additionally, this also allows us to exercise our proficiency in omnichannel fulfilment through our delivery to retail services across the EU.

Supporting this is our award-winning customer service based in the UK, with English and Polish-speaking customer support specialists. This gives our clients the support they need to take advantage of Europe’s enormous e-commerce market and remain compliant with EU regulations. Of course, your 3PL partner must demonstrate compliance with the laws within your target markets, including customs and import/export regulations and data protection laws. It also requires VAT registration and ensuring product safety and labelling requirements are met, which ILG supports via external specialist partners.

Europe E-Commerce Success Stories

We’ve helped ambitious brands take their success into Europe – and beyond. From helping UK-based makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury become a global household name, to aiding the US-based skincare experts MALIN+GOETZ expand into the UK and Europe, we give beauty and wellbeing brands the edge in taking their brands international.

Charlotte Tilbury

ILG has been working with Charlotte Tilbury for almost a decade, helping them achieve exceptional growth through scalable order fulfilment. In addition to offering order personalisation as part of our fulfilment services, we’ve successfully set them up with a worldwide delivery network to help them grow to new heights. Clients like Charlotte Tilbury highlight the success that a long-term fulfilment partnership can bring.

MALIN+GOETZ

MALIN+GOETZ offer luxury skincare products, the fulfilment of which is completely managed by our in-house client success team. With ILG, they have bases in the UK and Europe for both e-commerce and retail fulfilment, in addition to their flagship presence in the US.

Take Your First Steps into Europe with ILG

We’re passionate about setting our clients up for lasting success in Europe, with reliable order fulfilment that handles every facet of e-commerce and retail logistics from start to finish.

If you’re looking to scale your brand and capitalise on the remarkable potential of Europe’s e-commerce market, now is the time. Book a call with one of our fulfilment specialists today, or complete the enquiry form below, and we will be in touch.

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