The challenges and opportunities for e-commerce businesses in Europe

The European e-commerce market has shown remarkable growth in recent years – a trend that is expected to continue in the near future. In 2022, 68% of EU  consumers between the ages of 16 and 74 purchased or ordered products or services online in the 12 months preceding the survey, a 1% increase from 2021. 

With this in mind, let us delve deeper into the state of e-commerce and delivery performance of 6 European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

This report is made by our data and research arm, Parcel Monitor

Through Parcel Monitor’s benchmarking and carrier performance measurement activities, we collected billions of anonymized data points from more than 130 countries annually. 

We then harmonized this data with data from hundreds of millions of parcels from over 1500 carriers–collected via Parcel Monitor’s tracking page–to generate exclusive insights into the European market.

The e-commerce landscape in Europe today: A positive outlook despite adversity

E-commerce has experienced significant growth and evolution throughout Europe in recent years. It is driven by a combination of factors, including increased internet penetration, mobile usage, and changing consumer behaviors. 

Moreover, cross-border e-commerce has also been on the rise in Europe, with the market poised to grow by $55.47 billion from 2022 to 2026. From our data, the market is accelerating at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.71%.

After the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce has become even more firmly anchored in the European economy and society. Overall, two trends can be identified. On the one hand, there is the normalization and stabilization of online sales as compared to the exceptional year of 2021. 

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2022, e-commerce parcel volumes only increased by 64.2%, notably lower than the 69.7% growth observed the year before. 

This 7.89% decline in growth is consistent with the projections made in Parcel Monitor’s forecasting report, which pointed towards a dip in Europe’s parcel volume growth ranging from 5.3% to 20.1% during peak season 2022. 

On the other hand, consumers adopted a cautious approach to their expenditures due to factors like the war in Ukraine, and a prevailing sense of uncertainty. 

However, despite this trend, the digital commerce sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience as e-commerce sales have only shown a minor decline. Furthermore, the online services industry, including e-tourism, events, and ticketing, has displayed a consistent recovery over the past year.

The impact of challenges at every turn

In 2023, many advanced economies faced an “economic tipping point.” Global consumer confidence fell due to soaring inflation, escalating geopolitical tensions, and rapidly rising interest rates. Households worldwide are experiencing a severe strain on personal finances and are forced to make widespread cutbacks across all areas of their spending – including online shopping. 

According to Retail Economics, Europe is among the regions most affected by the consumer downturn in 2023. Growth prospects are particularly bleak in the United Kingdom and Germany, as evidenced by their relatively high scores on the Shopper Sensitivity Scorecard. Consumers in France, Germany, and Italy were more reserved about spending than the country’s economic benchmarks would suggest. 

Despite the economic slowdown and grim overall outlook for 2023, about 57% of European merchants expected similar or better trading conditions moving forward. To ensure they are ready to capture any opportunity, retail businesses across the region are increasingly investing in innovative solutions that boost their capabilities. 

Some of the technology these businesses invested in enables them to offer personalized shopping journeys and more delivery options – indicating a strong focus on the customers’ buying experiences.

References: “E-commerce Delivery Benchmark Report 2023,” Retail Economics 2023

The rise of the ubiquitous collection point in Europe

The pandemic-induced e-commerce boom, coupled with the ever-changing expectations of modern customers, has prompted several European retailers to explore unconventional e-commerce fulfillment methods. According to a report by Last Mile Experts, there are more than 336,000 PUDO locations available throughout Europe. 43,000 of these PUDO points are automated parcel machines (APMs). 

Research also shows that there has been a 40% growth in PUDO points in the European Union and the United Kingdom since mid-2019. In 2022, Belgium had the highest collection point (CP) usage of 8.7%, followed by France (7.3%), Germany (7.1%), and the Netherlands (5.4%). 

From our past data, we saw CP usage decrease in all of the markets above except France. The biggest dip, however, was observed in Germany, where the proportion of parcels delivered to collection points declined by 41.7% from 12.2% in 2021 to 7.1% in 2022. 

The downward trend was also observed in neighboring Belgium and the Netherlands, where CP usage decreased by 2.69% and 14.6%, respectively. Meanwhile, in France, there was a rise in CP usage by 14.6%, which corresponds with La Poste Groupe’s plans to roll out 50 smart lockers in 45 underground and RER regional train stations in Paris by the end of the first quarter of 2022.


  • “40% growth in pick-up/drop-off points in Europe,” Ecommerce News – Europe 2021 
  • “Out-of-home delivery in Europe 2021”, Last Mile Experts & UPIDO 2021
  • “Pickup to enhance the customer experience for commuters in Paris,” Post & Parcel 2021

Delivery issues that prevent a seamless experience for your customers

Source: Parcel Monitor: Europe e-commerce logistics market report

Through Parcel Monitor’s data, we saw that delivery issues typically fall into two categories–on the recipient’s end or the carrier’s end. On the recipient side, involuntary returns were one of the most common delivery issues because customers were not home to receive parcels. 

For carriers, one of the most common problems was unforeseen delivery delays. In countries like Norway and the Netherlands, most of the delivery issues were carrier-related. In Germany, France, and Belgium, delivery issues were customer-related. 

Source: Parcel Monitor: Europe e-commerce logistics market report

However, that doesn’t mean that customers are to be blamed for these issues. Often, these problems can be attributed to a lack of transparency in the delivery process. In other words, e-commerce customers do not know when they should be home to receive their orders.

Inside look at delivery performance in Belgium 

Source: Parcel Monitor: Europe e-commerce logistics market report

In terms of delivery speed, Belgium saw a deterioration in the average transit time of domestic parcels, as indicated by the increase from 1 day in 2021 to 1.06 days in 2022. As for delivery issues, 12% originate from carriers. This is considered relatively high, given that carrier-related factors were responsible for only 3.11% of the total delivery problems in all of Europe during peak season 2022.

Even as the world leaves the pandemic behind, working from home remains the norm in several European cities, including Belgium. A recent survey revealed that 46% of Belgians are allowed to work from home, with the ideal arrangement being 2.5 days of working from home every week. 

With the population staying at home for most of the year, it is no surprise that the first-delivery success rate in Belgium was as high as 93.2% in 2022. Last but not least, Belgium’s collection point usage stood at 8.7% in 2022, and out of these parcels, 47% of them were retrieved within the first 24 hours of being delivered to the collection points, which is one of the lowest in the region.

Inside look at delivery performance in France

Source: Parcel Monitor: Europe e-commerce logistics market report

While France retained one of the top spots in collection point usage at 7.3%, there has been a decline since 2021. This could be linked to the new Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) regulations aimed at making payments more secure and reducing fraud. 

In a survey, 46% of French customers expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with SCA because they feel it leads to an extended checkout process and longer wait times at collection points. 

In conjunction, home delivery became increasingly popular. Shoppers can receive their orders without having to leave their homes. Putting these two reasons together could explain why collection point usage fell even though online shopping grew by approximately 8%. 

Upon further analysis, we also found that France had one of the longest dwell times in the region, with only 49% of parcels being retrieved from collection points in the first 24 hours.

First and foremost, France had an average parcel transit time of 1.91 days, with a close to 91% first-attempt success rate and a 9.8% issue ratio. The relatively high transit time could be associated with the multiple strikes throughout 2022. 

In November 2022, for instance, over 60% of postal workers participated in postal strikes in Southwestern France to protest the country’s job cuts, salaries, and undesirable working conditions. As a result, parcel deliveries in and around Bordeaux were delayed for several days.

Inside look at delivery performance in Germany

Source: Parcel Monitor: Europe e-commerce logistics market report

As opposed to France, Germany experienced an improvement in its parcel transit time from 1.3 days in 2021, 1.22 days in 2022, and 1.19 days in 2023. This has been, in part, due to the concerted efforts of third-party logistics (3PL) companies to build more warehouses across the country. A strong focus on efficiency has helped reduce the shipping distance and time taken to get goods to consumers. 

Next, there was negligible change in the first-attempt success ratio over 2021 and 2022: 94.5% and 94.9%, respectively. However, there was a noticeable drop in 2023. 

The year saw a first-attempt success ratio of 91.8%, likely due to the rise in delivery issues on recipients’ end; approximately 77.1% of total delivery problems in H1 2023 stemmed from recipient-related factors (e.g. recipients not being at home to receive the parcel), as compared to the 62.4% in FY2022. 

Germany’s collection point usage, on the other hand, saw a decline from 12.2% in 2021 to 7.1% in 2022. In 2023, collection point usage bounced back to reach 9.19% in the first half of 2023. 

The drop in 2022 could be because when it comes to last-mile delivery, German consumers show a high preference for home delivery with a signature required. According to RetailX, 52% of the population favors this method as it can provide them with certainty and proof of delivery. 

However, collection points continue to be a faster, more cost-effective, and more sustainable way of delivery in Germany. That could explain why German consumers are re-discovering this delivery method. 

Meanwhile, less conventional methods like click-and-collect and collection points are not as popular, with just 6% of German consumers opting for the former in 2021. To date, only 25% of the top 500 German online stores offer click-and-collect as a shipping service to their customers.

Inside look at delivery performance in Norway

Source: Parcel Monitor: Europe e-commerce logistics market report

Based on our in-house data, Norway had one of the longest average parcel transit times of 2.29 days in H1 2023. In comparison, France and Germany had transit times of 1.84 and 1.19 respectively. There are several possible reasons why it takes a relatively long time for parcels to reach consumers in Norway. 

Some of these reasons include remote residential addresses that are hard to find, delays caused by harsh weather conditions, and the lack of a well-developed transportation network. 

However, it is also important to acknowledge the recent efforts made by Post Norway to support e-commerce growth and enhance the quality of postal service. For starters, it has been ramping up investments in an RFID-based hardware and software infrastructure in the last few years to meet the growing needs of customers. 

Norway is home to the 30th largest e-commerce market in the world, with a forecast revenue of US$10,656.6 million by the end of 2023. According to eCommerceDB, Norwegian e-commerce is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5% between 2023 and 2027, resulting in a market volume of US$15,295.1 million by 2027. 

Meanwhile, the first-attempt delivery success rate in Norway was on the higher end at 97.6% in H1 2023, and the delivery issue ratio was similar to those of its Southern neighbors at 8.10%, with 73.0% of the problems stemming from carriers’ end.

Inside look at delivery performance in the United Kingdom

Source: Parcel Monitor: Europe e-commerce logistics market report

Our analysis also revealed that the majority of parcels (94.5%) in the UK were successfully delivered to end-consumers on the very first attempt, placing it third in the region, not far behind the Netherlands (98.9%) and Germany (94.9%). 

In a recent Statista survey, 61% of respondents voted DPD as their preferred parcel delivery provider among all the different couriers in the UK. It was also interesting to note that Royal Mail was not the most commonly used courier by retailers despite its popularity with local customers; 95% of shoppers said they were satisfied with their past experience with Royal Mail. 

In 2022, the United Kingdom (UK) observed an average of 1.46 days in transit time for domestic shipments, notably longer than some of its neighbors like Belgium (1.06 days) and Germany (1.22 days). 

A large proportion of parcel collections in Europe were completed in the first 24 hours, with the UK having the highest rate at 71%, followed by Germany (52%), France (49%), and then Belgium (47%). 

The comparatively short dwell time in the UK is hardly surprising, considering that most of the country’s collection points are set up in easy-to-access locations that people frequent during their day.

Lastly, there were problems with about 6.40% of all deliveries made in H1 2023, with around 28% of these issues linked to carriers. Knowing the root causes of delivery failures allows retailers to manage expectations, which can, in turn, enhance the customer experience. 

Since most issues in the UK are from the recipients’ end, retailers can consider providing more alternate delivery options such as “leave at a safe place,” “leave at the doorstep,” etc.

Logistics data is the cornerstone of e-commerce success

The Parcel Monitor data we shared can be instrumental in understanding your markets better or the markets that are part of your expansion plans. However, that’s only the start. To find success in these markets, it is also necessary to start analyzing your own logistics data. That means you need to start tracking all outbound and inbound shipments. 

The logistics data collected is essential for understanding your processes, customers’ preferences, and for identifying areas of improvement in your delivery processes. But that’s not all logistics data can do for you. With the right platform, you can transform your post-checkout logistics process from the ground up. 

Here’s what we mean. 

Access all post-purchase logistics data from a single, reliable source

The first phase of transformation requires data. As an e-commerce enterprise, your shipment volume can reach several tens of millions of parcels. Each parcel also generates data throughout its journey from warehouse to customer–and back again if it’s returned. If you’re working with multiple carriers, manual collection of data is time-consuming. The data collected can be highly unstructured, making it difficult to extract usable insights from them. 

That’s because each carrier has its own definition for the multiple touchpoints a parcel passes through. To get visibility into your logistics process, this data has to be harmonized with data from your warehouse, order, and customer management systems. Only then can your logistics data be represented in a unified and consistent standard–and used accordingly.

Data unlocks new experiences throughout the post-purchase journey

The resulting harmonized data gives you a complete picture of your logistics operations and customer interactions. With this data at your fingertips, you can unlock new experiences that will set you apart from your competitors.

There are four experiences that you can create with harmonized data: Delivery, checkout, returns, and logistics. Each of these experiences has potential to streamline a specific process and reduce costs. But together, these experiences can enhance customer satisfaction to new heights, and help accelerate revenue growth. 

Delivery Experience – Drive revenue growth through customer satisfactionn and loyalty

The post-purchase delivery experience is mostly about communicating with your customers during the shipping process. With harmonized logistics data, you make it readily available on your website via a self-service tracking portal. 

You can also use this data to proactively send notifications to keep them updated on the status of their orders, and engaging them with your brand. A good delivery experience can make a lasting impression on your customers and increase their loyalty to your business.

Checkout Experience – Increase checkout conversions and upselling by removing uncertainty

The checkout experience is how you persuade your customers to complete their orders on your website so that you increase conversion rates or lower cart abandonment rates. It involves showing customers the estimated delivery date (EDD), and various shipping options based on cost, speed, and sustainability. 

You can use the harmonized data with AI technology to generate accurate and dynamic EDD predictions. The data also can be used to calculate the optimal route that suit your customers’ preferences. By doing so, you reduce the friction in the checkout process and increase your sales.

Returns Experience – Automate returns to increase brand advocacy and retain revenue

The returns experience is about managing reverse logistics. It involves issuing refunds, processing returns, and managing inventory. With harmonized data, you can create a seamless and automated returns experience for your customers. This data allows you to automate the returns process and can lets you to offer fast refunds. 

All of which leads to a reduction “where is my refund” inquiries that keeps your customer service team free to tackle more important problems.At the same time, your automated returns solution can also be used to prevent fraudulent returns. The result? Increased customer trust, satisfaction, and retention. 

Logistics Experience – Streamline the post-purchase process to reduce costs and optimize operations

The logistics experience primarily impacts your internal logistics operations. With harmonized delivery data, your logistics team is able plan, execute, and monitor the movement of parcels from warehouse to customer. The result is a streamlined and cost-effective logistics experience for your internal teams. 

You can also use the data to perform logistics tasks such as order fulfillment, inventory management, carrier selection, and shipment tracking. More advanced uses of logistics data includes route selection for shipments based on factors like cost, speed, and sustainability. By doing so, you can improve your delivery performance, lower your logistics costs, and align with customer preferences.

Co-pilot – Manage end-to-end post-purchase process via a single source of truth

The last experience is what we call “Co-pilot.” With harmonized logistics data from your entire post-purchase process, you are able to get real-time overview of your whole operations using advanced reporting and analytics. From a granular view, your logistics team can a proactive approach to delivery issues. 

From a broad perspective, you can derive insights from trends and patterns to understand more about your delivery performance, customer behavior and market trends. These insights can help you make accurate and strategic business decisions that can improve your competitive advantage and growth.

Getting your business ready for opportunities in the EU market

The European e-commerce market is growing rapidly, with a projected value of $755 billion by 2025. This growth presents significant opportunities for e-commerce businesses, both large and small. 

However, according to our in-house research data, we can see that consumer preferences are also changing. To keep up, your business needs to harness the power of logistics data to improve every aspect of the post-purchase process in other to meet the unique demands of consumers in each country.  

Your business already has the necessary data to thrive in the market. But you need a leading logistics data and delivery experience platform like Parcel Perform to harmonize your data, and enable each of the experiences we’ve described above. 

Our platform is created with large e-commerce enterprises in mind, and can help businesses of all sizes streamline their operations and improve their customer experience. With Parcel Perform, businesses can:

  • Get real-time visibility into their supply chain
  • Identify and resolve potential problems before they impact customers
  • Reduce costs and improve efficiency
  • Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty

If you’re a business looking to achieve growth in the European market, Parcel Perform is the partner for you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you reach your goals.

About the author

Article authored by Parcel Perform Team. For e-commerce merchants and marketplaces in pursuit of growth in a global, competitive economy, every order counts. Parcel Perform is a team of logistics and data experts setting the bar for the delivery experience from pre-checkout to returns. By harnessing the power of data and integrations, our platform helps businesses improve customer lifetime value, lower logistics costs, and advance customer service operations, fuelling growth and expansion. With Parcel Perform, e-commerce businesses can now make every order, every shipment, and every loyal customer count. For more information, please visit