Expanding abroad to Europe has become the default continental expansion for most US ecommerce companies, and it has been so for many logical reasons, like its proximity to the U.S and a western-like way of living. Over 85% of the European population (743 million people)  is online, creating a total ecommerce market of  €717 billion in 2020, and growing. No matter how big the opportunity, expanding to Europe - with its many different countries, languages, cultures and regulations - can be overwhelming. 

This is exactly why we have created this guide on how to expand your ecommerce business to Europe. Keep on reading if you want to learn all about the essential demographics, cultural differences, target preferences and regulations in the biggest ecommerce markets of Europe.* 

Continue reading or download the full article here.

Ecommerce maturity in Europe

As mentioned before, Europe is a digital continent. Eurostat shows that 60% of European consumers had shopped online in the past year, with some bigger and more mature ecommerce markets like the UK and Germany reaching an astonishing 80%. We distinguish three types of ecommerce markets in Europe; 

  • the mature big ecommerce markets like the United Kingdom, Germany and France where many people are used to buying online. 

  • the smaller, rich countries where people are strong ecommerce adepts, like the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. 

  • Lastly, countries like Spain, Italy and Poland, which were a bit late to the party but are now making huge jumps and where ecommerce is growing faster and faster every day. 

First things first, avoid making these mistakes!

First off, and before actually digging in every country, we want to point out these big and mostly avoidable mistakes or processes that many businesses fail to recognise when crossing the pond into the old continent. Some of the most recurrent and easily avoidable are:

  • Not digging enough into the culture. Remember this is Europe, so every country is different, meaning you have to know each customer's preferences and ways of buying. Marketresearch is crucial when you are selling in Europe since -and we can’t stress this enough- every country is completely different. These are some of the cultural preferences you might have to think of:

    • Payment preferences, believe it or not, most countries have their own preferred way of payment. Customers won’t feel comfortable paying when you don't offer their preferred payment options and therefore will see you as less trustworthy.

    • Delivery preferences, same thing; in some countries they might prefer to pay more for a faster shipping option, whereas in others they would prefer cheaper deliveries or payment upon delivery.

    • Language, adapt to the customer’s preferred language, not everyone speaks English in Europe. And when we say adapt we don’t mean machine translations; we mean make it feel native. You need to sound natural and close to customers; if local buyers can’t have a smooth conversation with you, they won’t feel comfortable buying from you either. They will much rather play it safe and buy from someone who they can actually communicate with. 

    • Currency, showcase everything in a currency they understand, again, you’ll make it feel more trustworthy. Not all countries in Europe use the Euro.

    • Know where to find your clients, dig in and find out what social channels your clients are on, it will vary depending on the country so where you advertise yourself may vary. 

    • Don’t copy-paste, adapt to the culture, don't just copy-paste everything on your website. For instance, winter isn’t the same in Spain than in Sweden, so maybe if you are selling clothes you might consider switching your website to the spring collection earlier for southern countries. 

  • Not immersing yourself in the laws and regulations: for example how VAT works, what the GDPR entails or if there are any potential additional costs or permits depending on the characteristics of the package/product/price.

  • Not incorporating locals, having someone who knows the people and the culture is essential in cracking the customer code. You don't necessarily have to expand your team with each expansion, you can always partner with someone who will take care of the locally required activities, like fulfillment and customer service

Do you want to expand your online business to Europe but you don't have the team in place to do so? With Salesupply you can launch a new country in 8 weeks! 

Biggest ecommerce markets in Europe

The biggest, most important ecommerce markets in Europe are:

Continue reading or download the full article here.

The United Kingdom

Ecommerce market: $B97 

Population: 67,886 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 94.9% 

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 7 % CAGR per annum. 

Biggest sectors 

  • Fashion (worth $B32,5)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY 19% ($B17.7)

  • Electronics & Media ( $B16.4)5 

Fastest growing sectors in percentages

  • Food & personal care (15.8%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY (8.4%)

  • Fashion (8.1%) 

Top 3 marketplaces  

  • Amazon.co.uk

  • Ebay.co.uk

  • Argos.co.uk

Top 5 ecommerce websites 

  • Next.co.uk (Fashion)

  • Very.co.uk (Fashion)

  • Johnlewis.com (Department Store)

  • Ocado.com (Food and Personal Care)

  • Sainsburys.co.uk (Supermarket)

Cultural aspects:

  • Language As you may already know; English is the most spoken language in the U.K.; if you are a U.S company thinking of expanding to the U.K, just bare in mind some of the potential word variations. 

  • Currency Pound sterling (£). £1 is equivalent to $1.4 (approx).

  • Payment preferences: Digital wallets are growing to be used for almost a third of payments by 2023. PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay have the highest uptake. However, cards will continue to be the primary payment method. Buy now, pay later methods are also rising in popularity, like Klarna, which is used by 10% of the population. This method is seen primarily in the clothing segment.

  • Customer service 

    • Preferred Contact Channels: In the United Kingdom, consumers prefer to contact your customer service by phone, (58% rate this as their favourite option), after that, email is the most selected option, followed by online chat.  

    • What they value in customer service: Friendliness and helpfulness of agents (65%), prompt service (49%) and being kept informed during every step of the process (42%). (Eptica, 2020) 

    • Most used social channels Facebook (73% of usage penetration), Instagram (49%) and Twitter (45%) 

  • Delivery/fulfillment 

    • The top 3 shipping providers for online stores in the UK are Royal Mail, Hermes and DHL (EcommerceDB, 2021) 

    • British people mostly expect immediate home delivery and lower prices when shopping online. 

    • Clothing and shoes are the most returned items, although more than half of online shoppers (56%) say to have never returned an item they’d bought online. 

Legal requirements to start your ecommerce business 

Ever since the 1st of February 2020, the UK has separated from the European Union. There are some things you have to take into account if you are planning to fulfill your ecommerce business from either mainland Europe or the UK. Check out our article explaining every aspect of Brexit you need to bear in mind.

These are the most important legal requirements you need to think of when expanding your ecommerce business into the UK. 

  • VAT: Foreign businesses that are VAT/GST/Tax registered in their home state are obliged to register for a UK VAT number, with no threshold applicable. EU VAT registered companies have a threshold for distance-selling of £70,000 per annum (equivalent to about €80 000). A British fiscal representative will be needed at tax office request only.

  • UK EORI NUMBER which is a tax ID focused on trading and customs used to identify economic operators within the UK (or the EU) and that anyone importing or exporting from the UK (or the EU) needs. Before Brexit, you only needed to register for either EU EORI number or the UK one. Now you need to register for both if you are trading in both markets. For the UK EORI, register for one with HM Revenue and Customs. 

  • GDPR Any company that collects or processes personal data must comply with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018. Websites must display a privacy notice that is easily accessible, written in a clear and concise manner, which will also explain all the purposes for which said information will be used, as well as for how long it will be kept and whom it will be shared with. The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) regulations are further detailed here.  

  • Consent to cookies: it must also be displayed and users must be able to consent to it by a clear action (such as ticking the box). For further information visit the ICO website. 

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Germany

Ecommerce market: $B88.(EcommerceDB, 2021)

Population: 83.5 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 94.4% ( Internet world stats, June 2020)  

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 9% CAGR per annum .(EcommerceDB, 2021)

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue) 

  • Electronics & Media ($B23)

  • Fashion ($B22.5)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY ($B18.6) (EcommerceDB, 2021)

Fastest growing sectors (in percentages)

  • Food & Personal Care (14,6%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY (9.6%)

  • Fashion (9.1%) (EcommerceDB, 2021)

Top 3 Marketplaces

  • Amazon.de

  • Ebay.de

  • Otto.de (Similarweb, 2021) 

Top 5 ecommerce websites

  • Zalando.de (Fashion)

  • Mediamarkt.de (Electronics & Media)

  • Notebooksbilliger.de (Electronics & Media)

  • Lidl.de (Supermarket)

  • Bonprix.de (Fashion) (EcommerceDB, 2021)

Cultural aspects:

  • Language German, and even though more than half of the population speak English (56%), most Germans prefer to browse websites in their language. 

  • Currency  Euro (€) €1 is equivalent to $1,21 (approx)

  • Payment preferences Paypal is the preferred e-wallet method, used by 48% of online shoppers, followed by invoice methods like Klarna (21%) and either debit or credit cards (19%)

  • Customer service 

    • Preferred contact channels  In Germany, customer service is most frequently contacted by telephone and email. For both channels, 56% choose it as their favourite or one of their favourites. Online chat is also frequently mentioned by 23%. 

    • Most used social channels Whatsapp (77%), Facebook (64%), Instagram (43%), Facebook messenger (40%).

  • Delivery/fulfillment 

    • DHL is by far the most frequently used courier, followed by Hermes and DPD. (EcommerceDB, 2021) 

    • Fast delivery and being able to choose the delivery address are two very important matters for the German consumer, who seeks fast and reliable delivery options. 

    • German Return rates are the highest in Europe (53%), so solid return policies are a key factor in the German market. The most returned items are clothes, followed by shoes and electronics. The least return items are hobby related products. (EcommerceDB, 2021)

Legal requirements to start your ecommerce business 

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to. 

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • Provide information about your business: Every EU country dictates to showcase certain information about your business, but in Germany, the usual mandatory business details (such as your company’s address, contact information or name of registration) that need to be given on the website, also need to be available via what’s known as The Impressum, which has to be easily accessible, identifiable and always available. 

  • GDPR: Germany follows the Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG),  which is harmonised with the EU GDPR, regulations for data protection and privacy, although further specified. The German version of the GDPR is the most strict within Europe with its Double opt-in requirement. The double consent declarations (ticking the box and then clicking the link in an email) are mandatory so that the sender can demonstrate full consent.Just as in the UK, users in the European Union must also be able to consent to cookies if you are collecting any sort of personal information. 

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France

Ecommerce market: $B54 .(EcommerceDB, 2021)

Population: 65.1 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 92,6% ( Internet world stats, June 2020) 

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 9% CAGR per annum (EcommerceDB, 2021)  

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue) 

  • Fashion ($B17.1)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY ($B10.9)

  • Electronics & Media ( $B10.1) (EcommerceDB, 2021) .

Fastest growing sectors (in percentages) 

  • Food & Personal Care (15.8%)

  • Fashion (7.8%)

  • Furniture & Appliances (7.2%) (EcommerceDB, 2021)  

Top 3 Marketplaces

  • Amazon.fr

  • Cdiscount.com

  • Aliexpress.com (Similarweb, 2021) 

Top 5 ecommerce websites 

  • Auchan.fr (Supermarket)

  • Veepee.fr (Fashion)

  • Vente-privee.com (Fashion)

  • Fnac.com (Electronics & Media)

  • Laredoute.fr (Departmentstore). 

Cultural aspects:

  • Language French

  • Currency Euro (€).

  • Payment preferences: French people like paying with their bank card, as it is the most popular payment with 57% of use preference, followed by Paypal or similar (34%) and bank transfer (2%)

  • Customer service 

    • Prefered contact channels They prefer to be contacted by telephone, followed by email. Online chat options such as live chat and social media are becoming increasingly popular and 21% of consumers identify them as their preferred channel.

    • What they value in customer service is a prompt (customer) service with a good solution (46%), followed by friendliness and helpfulness of agents (40%) and being kept informed during every step of the process (29%). 

    • Most used social channels Facebook (73.9%), Facebook Messenger (58.1%), Instagram (49,3%) and Whatsapp (49,1%).(Statcounter 2021)

  • Delivery/fulfillment 

    • The top shipping providers of the top 500 French online stores are La Poste, followed Mondial Relay and Chronopost. (EcommerceDB, 2021)

    • 85% of customers opt for home delivery, even though click and collect options are slowly becoming more popular due to lower delivery costs.

    • Returns - Like Germany and the UK, clothes and shoes are the most returned items, even though 63% of French consumers say they have never returned an item they’d bought online. 

Legal requirements to start your ecommerce business 

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000.(ec.europa.eu, 2021)

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to.(Shopify, 2021)

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • GDPR France follows the EU GDPR regulations for data protection and privacy. As with Germany, there might have been some national adaptations expanding EU rules. Check the CNIL website for more in depth information. 

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Spain

Ecommerce market: $B21.(Ecommerce DB, 2021)

Population: 46.94 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 91.9% ( Internet world stats, June 2020)

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 11% CAGR per annum.(Ecommerce DB, 2021)

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue): 

  • Fashion ($B6.3)

  • Electronics & Media ($B5.3)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY ($B3.6)

Fastest growing sectors (in percentages)

  • Food & Personal Care (16.2%)

  • Fashion (7.8%) 

  • Furniture (7.1%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY (7.1%) 

Top 3 Marketplaces 

  • Amazon.es

  • Aliexpress.es

  • Elcorteingles.es (Similarweb, 2021) 

Top 5 Ecommerce websites

  • Carrefour.es (Supermarket)

  • Pccomponents.es (Electronics & Media)

  • Alcampo.es (Supermarket)

  • Zara.es (fashion)

  • Mercadona.es (supermarket).   

Cultural aspects:

  • Language Spanish is the most widely spoken language. Bear in mind that Spain has one of the lowest English speaking rates in Europe. 

  • Currency Euro (€)

  • Payment preferences Debit and credit cards are the preferred payment method (51%), followed by Paypal or similar (41%) and cash on delivery (3%)

  • Customer service 

    • Prefered contact channels  Spanish consumers overwhelmingly opt for telephone (66%) and email (60%) to contact customer service. Online chat (social media, live chat) is only specified as an option by 11%.

    • Most used social channels Whatsapp (87%), Facebook (82%), Instagram (54%) and Twitter (49%)

  • Delivery/fulfillment 

    • Correos, SEUR and UPS, are the most popular couriers.

    • The vast majority of Spanish online shoppers expect their online order to be delivered within 2-3 days. 

Laws and regulations:

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000 (ec.europa.eu, 2021).

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to.(Shopify, 2021)

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • GDPR: Spain follows the EU GDPR regulations for data protection and privacy. There might have been some national adaptations expanding EU rules. Check the AEPD website for more in depth information. 

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Italy

Ecommerce market: $B21 (EcommerceDB, 2021)

Population:  60.6 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 90,6% ( Internet world stats, June 2020)

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 11% CAGR per annum; just like Spain, Italy is one of the fastest growing ecommerce markets in Europe..(EcommerceDB, 2021) 

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue) 

  • Fashion ($B5.7) 

  • Electronics & Media ($B5.7) 

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY($B3.3)

Fastest growing sectors (in percentages) 

  • Food & Personal Care (15,8%)

  • Fashion (7.7%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY (7.1%)

Top 3 Marketplaces 

  • Amazon.it

  • Aliexpress.com

  • Ebay.com (Similarweb, 2021)

Top 5 ecommerce websites 

  • Zalando.it (Fashion)

  • Apple.com (Electronics & Media)

  • Shein.com (Fashion)

  • Esselungaacasa.it (Food & Personal Care)

  • Privalia.com (Fashion) 

Cultural aspects:

  • Language Italian. It is very usual for Southern European countries to not be fluid in English, so just like in Spain, bear in mind that you will most definitely need to translate everything into italian. 

  • Currency  Euro (€)

  • Payment preferences Digital wallets (36%), followed by credit card (19%), prepaid card (12%) and bank transfer (9%). 

  • Customer service 

    • Prefered contact channels  Italians prefer email over telephone as their favourite customer service channel. Alongside this, the popularity of online chat options is growing.

    • Most used social channels Facebook (90,4%), Instagram (56,1%), Twitter (23,8%) (Ecommerce DB, 2021)

  • Delivery/fulfillment  

    • Italian online customers are relatively patient, meaning they are willing to wait for their package for 3 to 5 days, but only as long as shipping is free. 

    • Most offered and used couriers include Bartolini (BRT), Poste Italiane and SDA.

    • Return rates are lower than most countries in Europe, since 66% of Italians say they have never returned an item bought online. Most returned products are clothes, shoes and electronics. 

Laws and regulations:

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000(ec.europa.eu, 2021).

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to.(Shopify, 2021)

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • GDPR  Italy follows the EU GDPR regulations for data protection and privacy. There might have been some national adaptations expanding EU rules. Check the GPDP for more in depth information. 

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The Netherlands

Ecommerce market: $B18..(EcommerceDB, 2021) 

Population: 17,28 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 95,6%( Internet world stats, June 2020)

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 8% CAGR per annum..(EcommerceDB, 2021) 

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue) 

  • Fashion ($B5.9)

  • Electronics & Media ($B3.9)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY ($B3.3) 

Fastest growing sectors (in percentages)

  • Food & Personal Care (15.6%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY, (8.4%)

  • Fashion (8%). 

Top 3 Marketplaces 

  • Bol.com

  • Marktplaats.nl

  • Amazon.nl (Similarweb, 2021) 

Top 5 ecommerce websites 

  • Coolblue.nl (Electronics & Media)

  • Wehkamp.nl (Department Store)

  • Ah.nl (Supermarket)

  • Zalando.nl (Fashion)

  • Mediamarkt.nl (Electronics & Media) 

Cultural aspects:

  • Language Dutch is the most spoken language in The Netherlands, but about 89% of the population do also speak English, making it one of the highest English speaking countries in Europe. 

  • Currency Euro (€)

  • Payment preferences  The most used payment method is by far iDeal with a 69% usage by the Dutch population. Other popular methods are Credit card (9%) and Paypal 4%). Popular post-payment methods are AfterPay, acceptgiro (bank transfer) and Klarna. 

  • Customer service 

    • Prefered contact channels  WhatsApp (87%), Facebook (74%) and Instagram (54%)

    • What they value in customer service Among Dutch consumers, expectations are high when it comes to customer service interaction. The Dutch are looking for personalisation and empathy. Consumers expect that the different agents they speak to, know about their question or problem. An integrated omnichannel network is therefore indispensable in the Netherlands. The biggest source of dissatisfaction for Dutch customers regarding customer service is being frequently redirected. 

    • Most used social channels WhatsApp and Facebook are the most used social media both having the highest overall number of users but also seeing much daily use. WhatsApp is the third one with over 12 million Dutch users, and Facebook had around ten million. 

  • Delivery/fulfillment  

    • The most popular couriers are PostNL, DHL and UPS.

    • When it comes to Dutch online consumers, fast shipping is key. They expect next day delivery, and half of consumers buy more frequently from shops where delivery time can be specified. 

    • Return rates are higher than most countries in Europe, and clothing and shoes are usually the most returned items. (Statista, 2021) 

Laws and regulations:

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000(ec.europa.eu, 2021).

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to.(Shopify, 2021)

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • GDPR The Netherlands follows the EU GDPR regulations for data protection and privacy. There might have been some national adaptations expanding EU rules. Check the AVG for more in depth information. 

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Sweden

Ecommerce market: $B12 (EcommerceDB, 2021)

Population: 10 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 96.4% ( Internet world stats, June 2020)

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 7% CAGR per annum .(EcommerceDB, 2021) 

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue) 

  • Fashion ($B3.7)

  • Electronics & Media ($B2.6)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY ($B2.3)

Fastest growing sectors in percentages

  • Food & Personal Care (12.8%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY (10.02%)

  • Fashion (8.3%)

Top 3 Marketplaces

  • Amazon.com

  • Clasoholson.com

  • Ebay.com (Similarweb, 2021) 

Top 5 ecommerce websites 

  • Netonnet.se (Electronics & Media)

  • Apotea.se (Food & Personal Care)

  • Elgiganten.se (Electronics & Media)

  • Zalando.se (Fashion)

  • Apoteket.se (Food & Personal Care)  

Cultural aspects:

  • Language Swedish. English is spoken at a proficiency level by more than 80% of the population.

  • Currency Swedish Krone (kr.)  kr.1 is equivalent to $0.12 (approx)

  • Payment preferences Buy now, pay later (23%), bank transfer (22%), Debit card (19%) and digital wallet (16%). 51 Bear in mind that bank transfers are growing to become the dominant payment method by 2023. This is due to Sweden’s 100 percent bank account penetration and the rise of Swish, a mobile payment app run by Sweden’s leading banks. Swish allows instant bank transfers and is used by two-thirds of the population. The Swedish payments market could be shaken up by e-krona, the world’s first digital national bank currency, which is the government's ambition to make Sweden a cashless country, partially by 2023 and completely by 2030.

  • Customer service 

    • What they value in customer service If there is something Swedes really take notice of is the seller’s know-how and the after-sales service.48 Research about the company of a product they might buy in the future is often done, since consumers want to make sure the brand reflects their lifestyle value; this is why most customers will contact a brand first, even before buying a product, so make sure your customer service agents are well-trained. 

    • Most used social channels Facebook has an incredibly high rate of penetration compared to the other social media channels, with an 80.89%, followed by Pinterest (7.2%) and Twitter (5.29%)

  • Delivery/fulfillment 

    • Postnord, Budbee and DHL are the most popular couriers.

    • 71% of Swedes will check the status of their purchase at least once, with 23 percent checking at least three times, so it is crucial for you to show your orders being tracked in every step of the way. 

Laws and regulations:

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000(ec.europa.eu, 2021).

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to.(Shopify, 2021)

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • GDPR Sweden follows the EU GDPR regulations for data protection and privacy. There might have been some national adaptations expanding EU rules. Check the IMY for more in depth information. 

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Poland

Ecommerce market: $B12 (EcommerceDB, 2021)

Population:  37.8 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 78.6% ( Internet world stats, June 2020)

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 10.6% CAGR per annum .(EcommerceDB, 2021). 

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue) 

  • Fashion ($B5.7)

  • Electronics & Media ($B2.1)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY ($B1.7)

Fastest growing sectors in percentages 

  • Food & Personal Care (13.2%)

  • Fashion (8.5%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY(8%).

Top 3 Marketplaces 

  • Allegro.pl

  • Olx.pl

  • Aliexpress.com (Similarweb, 2021)  

Top 5 ecommerce websites 

  • Euro.com.pl (Electronics & Media)

  • Bonprix.pl (Fashion)

  • Mediaexpert.pl (Department Store)

  • Zalando.pl (Fashion)

  • Zara.com (Fashion) (Ecommerce DB, 2021)

Cultural aspects:

  • Language Polish 

  • Currency Polish złoty (zł), equivalent to U.S $0,26. 

  • Payment preferences Direct payment through bank (27%), Paypal or similar (25%), Debit or credit card (24%), Cash on Delivery (12%) 

  • Customer service 

    • Prefered contact channels  Polish customers tend to prefer calling customer service since they are too impatient to wait for an email answer. In addition to siad traditional channels, chat and social media are also  becoming increasingly popular since they are a fast and efficient way to get customer service, consumers say. 

    • What they value in customer service The service they receive during and after the purchase is arguably the most important; meaning polish consumers are willing to pay more at a shop which has better service; so make sure you give them all the attention.  

    • Most used social channels: Facebook is by far the most used social media channel(95.5%), followed by Instagram (30.8%) and Snapchat (18%). 

  • Delivery/fulfillment 

    • InPost, DPD and Poczta Polska are the most popular couriers.

    • Return rates are lower than other countries, with 67% of users stating they have never returned an item. 

Laws and regulations:

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000(ec.europa.eu, 2021).

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to.(Shopify, 2021)

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • GDPR Poland follows the EU GDPR regulations for data protection and privacy. There might have been some national adaptations expanding EU rules. Check the UODO for more in depth information.  

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Belgium

Ecommerce market: $B6 .(EcommerceDB, 2021).

Population: 11.5 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 93.9% ( Internet world stats, June 2020)

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 8% CAGR per annum.(EcommerceDB, 2021) 

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue) 

  • Fashion ($B2.06)

  • Electronics & Media ($B1.4)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY ($B1.18)

Fastest growing sectors in percentages 

  • Food & Personal Care (16.1%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY (8.6%)

  • Fashion (8%) 

Top 3 Marketplaces 

  • Bol.com

  • Amazon.fr

  • Aliexpress.com (Similarweb, 2021)  

Top 5 ecommerce websites

  • Coolblue.be (Electronics & Media)

  • Zalando.be (Fashion)

  • Apple.com (Electronics & Media)

  • Vandenborre.be (Electronics & Media)

  • Veepee.com (Fashion) (EcommerceDB, 2021)

Cultural aspects:

  • Language Dutch (55% as 1st and 16% as 2nd), French (39% as 1st and 49% as 2nd) and German (0.4% as 1st and 22% as 2nd) are the official languages, and about 38% of the population speak English.

  • Currency Euro (€)

  • Payment preferences Card payments take the majority of ecommerce payments in Belgium, accounting for 47 percent of sales. Domestic debit card payment scheme Bancontact drives 1.6 Billion transactions a year, compared to the 246 million for MasterCard and Visa that took place last year, meaning offering Bancontact specifically is crucial in Belgium. Bank transfers are the second-most popular payment option, with a 25 percent market share. Bank transfers using Klarna are also on the rise. Digital wallets are the third-most popular choice, expecting a 20 percent market share by 2023, with PayPal being the most popular one amongst them. 

  • Customer service The most used social channels in Belgium are; Facebook (58.94%); Pinterest (27.62%); Twitter (6.31%) (Ecommerce DB, 2021)

  • Delivery/fulfillment Bpost, UPS and PostNL are the most popular couriers. 

Laws and regulations:

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000(ec.europa.eu, 2021).

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to.(Shopify, 2021)

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • GDPR Belgium follows the EU GDPR regulations for data protection and privacy. There might have been some national adaptations expanding EU rules. Check the DPA for more in depth information.

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Denmark

Ecommerce market: $B5 (EcommerceDB, 2021).

Population:  5,5 million people (2020)

Internet penetration: 97.8% ( Internet world stats, June 2020)

Annual ecommerce growth rate: 7% CAGR per annum .(EcommerceDB, 2021)

Biggest sectors (in terms of revenue) 

  • Fashion ($B1.7)

  • Electronics & Media ($B1.4)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY($B0.9)65

Fastest growing sectors in percentages 

  • Food & Personal Care (14.8%)

  • Toys, Hobby & DIY (9%)

  • Fashion (8.2%)

Top 3 Marketplaces 

  • Jemogfix.dk; 

  • Amazon.de & Amazon.com; 

  • Ebay.com  (Similarweb, 2021)

Top 5 ecommerce websites 

  • Zalando.dk (Fashion); 

  • Elgiganten.dk (Electronics & Media)

  • Bilka.dk (Electronics & Media)

  • Apple.com (Electronics & Media)

  • Hm.com (Fashion)

Cultural aspects

  • Language Danish

  • Currency Danish Krone (kr.)  kr.1 is equivalent to $0.12 (approx)

  • Payment preferences  Debit or credit card is the most popular online shopping payment method in Denmark (65%), followed by Mobile payment, such as MobilePay (11%) and PayPal (5%) 

  • Customer service 

    • Prefered contact channels Even though Denmark’s market is highly digitalised, telephone is still the preferred contact method. Live chats or social media chats are also becoming increasingly popular due to its immediacy.

    • What they value in customer service Danish consumers value a highly personalised and close customer service, which is why telephone contact is preferred, but only if there are no scripts for agents to follow. 

    • Most used social channels Facebook has the largest market share in Denmark reaching 62.5% of penetration. The next social media in the ranking are Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube, which had respectively  22.7% 6.8% and 2.6 % of penetration.

       

  • Delivery/fulfillment 
    • Postnord, GLS and Bring are the most popular couriers 

    • Almost half of Danish consumers opt for home delivery (49%), and 37% of them opt for a pickup location. 

Laws and regulations:

  • VAT: From July ‘21, the EU has a new VAT policy in place for all its members. This new policy makes procedures and administration way easier especially if you operate in several EU markets. The main changes are:

    • The existing thresholds for distance sales of goods to buyers in other EU Member States varying from EUR 35.000 (France) to EUR 100.000 (Germany), will be abolished and replaced by a new EU-wide threshold of EUR 10.000(ec.europa.eu, 2021).

    • One-Stop Shop (OSS) filing. Merchants can now file a single VAT return known as OSS filing that works for multiple EU countries, which does not require an individual tax registration for each of those countries. Merchants can use OSS to file and remit VAT for any EU country they ship to.(Shopify, 2021)

  • Import tariffs: If you are established outside the EU, you are also required to pay import tariffs. The applicable tariff can vary between 0% and 17%, depending on the type of product you are shipping. All EU countries apply the same tariffs. There is a minimum exemption here also: under 150€, no tariff applies. 

  • EU EORI number registration is mandatory for anyone trading in the EU. Once you obtain the EORI number, this will be valid for all EU member states. 

  • GDPR Denmark follows the EU GDPR regulations for data protection and privacy. There might have been some national adaptations expanding EU rules. Check the DDPA for more in depth information.

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*We have drafted this guide with great precision and care to make it as practical and useful as possible. However we can not guarantee that all legal, financial or technical facts are 100% correct. We advise you to use this guide as an introduction into expanding into Europe and to search for professional legal/ tax advice when you are ready to move forward. We do not accept any responsibility for damages or losses occurred due to following the advice given in this guide.

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