A Spotlight on European Retail & Ecommerce

With Q1 drawing to a close, we’ve highlighted some of the top retail and ecommerce stories from across Europe. Covering everything from 2023 market growth and Amazon’s new measures for user safety – to IKEA’s investment in automation and the enactment of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) – here’s our key highlights from 2024 so far

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Looking back to 2023 – Marketplace Growth

After a 2022 decrease, Dutch online platform Bol reported a turnover of €2.9 billion in 2023, showing a 7.3% increase from the previous year, with a Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) of €5.8 billion, 4.9% up. Bol’s operating results grew by 21.5%, to €151 million. 

Dutch online retailer Coolblue announced a record turnover of €2.41 billion, doubling its operating result to €88.3 million. The company is attributing its success to warehouse automation and improved efficiency. 

Meanwhile, in Germany, Amazon’s operations achieved a turnover of €34 billion last year, with a 12% increase, and a trade income of €22.8 billion. The GMV of Amazon.de reached €46.5 billion, with a 4.8% growth in sales by the site itself and partner sellers. Additionally, Amazon’s trading in Switzerland generated €1.2 billion in retail trade, with a 12% GMV growth.

Looking back to 2023 – Retail Growth

Retailers need to increasingly prioritize digital transformation, focusing investments on digital channels to engage consumers, without neglecting in-store experiences. With consumers more willing to pay more for products that offer a positive brand experience, brands must adopt a multi-touchpoint strategy: To achieve long-term growth, they need to harmonize and enhance digitalization, store optimization, and the expansion of global supply chains.

  • Inditex, the parent company of Zara, Pull&Bear, Bershka, and other brands, reported a successful fiscal year with an increase in profits despite raising prices. Sales reached €35.9 billion, marking a 10.4% rise from the previous year. The company also reported high customer engagement, with active app users reaching 152 million, and online visits increasing by 10% to a total of 6.5 billion. Due to these results, Inditex claims its ongoing store optimization and digitalization program continues to be key. 
  • The LEGO Group reported a 2% revenue growth to €8.8 billion despite a challenging toy market environment in 2023. Consumer sales grew by 4%, driven by robust performance in Central and Eastern Europe, and the US. For long-term growth, the company accelerated a list of strategic initiatives, such as opening 147 new stores and advancing digital expertise, with a 27% growth in the digital team. LEGO aims to leverage new technologies to enhance experiences for consumers, shoppers, retail partners, and employees.
  • Henkel Group reported a robust business performance (4.2% growth) in 2023, with operating profit surged by 10.2% and sales reaching €21.5 billion. Among strategic initiatives for long-term growth, the company listed the merger of consumer brands, expansion of the global supply chain, and advancements in digital strategies.

Zalando shifts its strategy to boost sales, focusing on sports and toys

Zalando is shifting its strategy, moving from a platform model to ecosystem model for both B2B and B2C. This entails expanding beyond fashion and diversifying into new product categories like sports, children’s items, and lifestyle products. Zalando aims to stand out with providing the best possible shopping experience, that – among extended categories list – includes also “personalized inspiration and entertainment”. 

In B2B, the company expands by offering logistics, software, and services to facilitate e-commerce for brands and retailers, both on and off its platform. With its new strategy, Zalando forecasts 5 to 10% annual sales growth by 2028, aiming to cover 15% of the European fashion market in the long term.

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Amazon launches dedicated safety page for European shoppers

Amazon has introduced a new safety page for European customers, including those in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the UK. This page allows customers to easily access information about product recalls and safety alerts for products they purchased on Amazon. In addition to proactive email notifications, customers now have a dedicated location to view recall details and safety information in one place. This initiative aims to improve customer awareness and provide clear instructions in the case of product safety concerns. 

While data privacy regulations get more stringent across the region, Amazon is working on solutions to support brands with privacy-compliant targeting and advertising at scale – offering a hyper-personalized advertising solution called Amazon Marketing Cloud

IKEA continues to develop the Collectomat net in Europe 

IKEA continues to introduce Collectomat, an automated system for online order pickup at one of their Belgian stores. This machine is the third installed in Europe, with the other two operating in Paris and Amsterdam. The 8.5-meter-high cylinder can store up to 68 orders. It can be refilled up to three times a day, delivering more than 200 orders daily. Customers enter their PIN, and the Collectomat delivers orders to a cart. The testing phase is underway from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., aiming for 24/7 availability. Ikea Belgium witnessed a doubling of Click & Collect orders last fiscal year, prompting innovations like Collectomat to enhance customer experience and ease employee workload.

Customs overhaul in Switzerland sparks concerns over parcel delivery disruptions

Switzerland’s customs legislation is set for a significant overhaul, raising concerns about potential disruptions in parcel delivery. Approved by the National Council, new rules allow importers and exporters to determine who handles customs clearance for parcels: retailers or customers. Businesses that run eCommerce operations in the Swiss market might face extended delivery times and additional tasks for their customers in case shoppers need to register custom clearance for packages themselves. 

“The flow of goods could come to a halt because parcels would need to be temporarily stored until it is clear who will declare the goods,” warns Swiss Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.

The DMA has come into effect

Effective since March 6th, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a new regulation by the EU Commission that is changing the game for businesses targeting audiences within the European Economic Area. 

Its implementation has been in the spotlight of our attention over the past months. To learn more about the DMA and its impact:

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