Cross-border E-commerce

How European customers prefer parcel delivery and payment

Published on 30 July 2019
Maxi Lina Weber
Maxi Lina Weber
Social Media Manager

Starting to trade abroad means entering new markets with your products and services. New markets with different customs. Especially when it comes to the preferred parcel delivery and payment options, it again becomes clear that Europe is not a single country. Invoice, credit card or Apple Pay? To the doorstep, parcel shop or a safe place? The variety of payment and delivery options can undoubtedly create confusion. Offering the locally common options builds trust and makes the shopping experience easy and convenient for the consumers. In this article we will have a look at several European countries and areas and help you identify and cater the needs of your European customers to reach them successfully.

Germany: Invoices welcome

Germany is a developed e-commerce market and steadily growing, with 83% of the citizen shopping online. Hence, it is certainly interesting to have a look at the customers’ preferences. In both, delivery and payment of online purchases, Germans are rather traditional and less progressive than other European nations. Dering from a long history of ordering goods from the popular OTTO catalog to the doorstep, most of today’s customers still prefer receiving their parcels right at home. And yet, the parcel shop network is well-developed and could serve as an alternative to home delivery even more.

Considering the payment options, paying by invoice is still ranked highest with 27.9%. Due to a relatively high return percentage, Germans are keen on paying after they have decided on keeping the delivered item(s). But it is not only invoice that is popular. Over the last years, the all-time favorite paying option is nearly caught up by e-wallet payments like PayPal, as the EHI Online-Payment 2019 study finds. The market share of the prominent online payment solution increased to 20.5%, followed by direct debit payment with 19.7%. Paying via credit card still ranks fourth (10.7%). Adding these options to your web shop portfolio creates a familiar environment and an uncomplicated shopping experience for your German customers. 

If you are keen on reaching customers in the Netherlands, you should consider offering their popular iDeal payment method, which is ranked on top of the list for 88 % of the consumers. 

Great Britain: The cashless payment forerunners

UK customers are Europe’s online shopping pioneers with high purchasing power and a surpassing digital infrastructure. 93% of UK citizen are using the internet and 87% can be counted to the number of online vendees. Thanks to no language borders, advanced technologies from the US can be quickly taken over here. 

For 75% of the British, door delivery is the undisputed favorite. Yet, despite a relatively late introduction of the parcel shops in Britain in 2012 (Germany: 1999), the development was fast. Customers soon became used and familiar with the convenience of this option. In 2014, already 34% of those polled were using the service. Yet another delivery option, the British consumers regularly choose, is the so-called safe place delivery. This option enables the courier to deliver parcels at a safe place of the end-customer’s choice, even when they are not at home. 

With cashless payment being promoted from early on, the UK is Europe’s leading country in terms of cashless payment transactions. Compared to other European consumers, Brits are fairly open to new payment options. This can be co-related to their openness towards mobile shopping. 37 % of their cross-border purchases were made on an alternative device to a computer (smartphone, tablet etc.).

The report by the Ecommerce Foundation reveals that online payment services, like PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay, gain more and more acceptance on the island. With 43% who have used it in 2018, it is just slightly behind debit or credit card (52%). The most popular credit cards are VISA, Mastercard and American Express. 

France: Popular parcel shop network

France is Europe’s third-largest e-commerce market with an internet penetration of 90%, which makes it an undeniably interesting market to enter. In a Statista survey on where the consumers would like their Christmas presents to be delivered, 50% of them selected pick-up- or click-and-collect station, which also surpasses home delivery. 

In contrast to the cash- and invoice-affine German neighbors, French consumers are rather influenced by the American way of life when it comes to payment. The so-called Carte Bleue and Carte Bancaire, a combination of credit and bank card, are widely used (accumulated 84%). As they are commonly co-branded with the other popular credit cards VISA and Mastercard, offering these as payment option helps you reach your French customers. The increasing popularity of online payment methods, such as PayPal or Amazon Payments, is also visible in France. The Statista Global Consumer Survey shows that 59% of French consumers have conducted this method in the last 12 months. Direct debit was used by 20% and prepaid cards and vouchers by 16%. Many purchases are made via smartphone in France. Even though fairly insignificant today, mobile payment options are likely to rise in the next years. 

Italy: Classic payment and delivery

Despite challenging times and a relatively low internet penetration (79%), the Italian market is developing and particularly attractive for international sellers. 

When it comes to the delivery of the purchased goods, most Italians agree on receiving their parcels at home (76.4%). Significantly fewer Italian buyers prefer the delivery to the office (8.4%) or another person’s home (3.9%). 

In Italy, credit cards are the most popular payment method for online purchases. VISA, Mastercard, and CartaSi have a market share of 40%, followed by Paypal (12%), and cash-on-delivery (11%). This option involves the customer paying by cash or card directly to the courier when the parcel is delivered. Besides in Italy, this method is exceptionally popular in Eastern Europe. Here, it ranges from 54% in Hungary to 72% in Slovakia.

Scandinavia: In the lead on mobile payments and parcel shop collection 

Scandinavia counts as one of the most digitally developed markets in Europe. The consumers are also known for rapidly adopting new technologies and payment methods – and they are frequently shopping online!

Especially in Sweden, Norway, and Finland, with the spread population density and villages and cities lying several kilometers apart, home delivery has been relatively cost-intensive. That is why it is already common practice that online shoppers are informed about the delivery of their parcel and have to collect it from the parcel shop themselves. In Norway, the pick-up point is by far the most preferred delivery method (62%), as the Ecommerce Foundation finds. Also, the Swedes (39%), and Danes (39%) are happy with collecting their parcels from the parcel shop whenever it fits into their schedule. Home delivery comes behind with 30% (Norway), 18% (Sweden), and 44% (Denmark). 

It is no surprise, the Nordics, particularly Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, are in lead when it comes to mobile payments. The upfront mobile wallet players are MobilePay (Denmark), Swish (Sweden), and Vipps (Norway) that started as peer-to-peer payment services. Although mobile payments are especially common for in-store payment transactions, debit or credit cards are still the most popular in Scandinavian e-commerce. Taking a look at a Statista survey on Sweden, 33% of the customers prefer paying with debit or credit card. Invoice comes second (25 %), followed by paying via online bank (18%), PayPal/Payson (11%), and Swish (10%). 

You’re not in it alone! 

Although they are located fairly close together, the customers in the various European countries have different preferences when it comes to the delivery and payment of their online purchases. What connects all of them is that they wish a convenient, familiar and fast transaction and shipping. Offering the well-known options of your target markets will help you reach your customers successfully. Here, a reliable logistics partner with a strong network and knowledge of the local customs can assist you in the process!

Sources: Statista, EHI Retail Institute, European Ecommerce Foundation, Polish Journal of Management Studies, Hermesworld, PayPal

Maxi Lina Weber
Maxi Lina Weber
Social Media Manager