Choosing couriers in Europe? 3 things to look for in 2024

Written by Matthew Ferguson | Read Time: 4 mins

E-commerce in Europe continues to grow. At the end of 2023, there were 540 million e-commerce customers across the continent (a 40% rise from 2017) with 586 million e-commerce users expected by 2027. In particular, six European nations (the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands) accounted for 72% of all European e-commerce. 

To cater for this surging demand, a wide range of couriers have emerged to pack, transport and deliver your goods to European customers. But how do you choose which courier is right for you? Here’s three things to consider. 


1) Delivery performance

It might seem obvious, but not all courier options provide the same level of delivery performance. For example, ParcelMonitor’s E-Commerce Logistics Market Report 2024 recently highlighted some key differences in the French, German, Italian and UK e-commerce markets. 

France - Expanding your e-commerce presence in France? 86% of couriers in France deliver on the first attempt, 94% of deliveries are on time and 5.5% of deliveries have issues. DPD France boasts the fastest domestic transit time (1.63 days), followed by Colissimo (1.72 days), La Poste (1.92 days) and Mondial Relay (2 days). 

Germany - Enlarging your marketplace presence in Germany? 95% of parcels are delivered on time with 89% delivered on the first attempt, but one in ten deliveries encounters a problem. DHL Paket (1.37 days), GLS Germany and DPD Worldwide (both 1.44 days) have the fastest transit times. 

Italy - Looking to sell to Italian e-commerce customers? Italian couriers boast a 91% first-attempt delivery success rate and 97% on-time ratio, as well as a relatively low 6.3% issue rate (down 17.3% from 2022). GLS Italy (1.53 days), BRT Bartolini (1.57 days), Italy SDA (1.65 days) and Poste Italiane (1.83 days) have the quickest transit times. 

UK - How does the UK compare to the continent? With 94% first-attempt delivery, 98% on-time delivery and 6.5% of deliveries encountering issues, the UK’s domestic couriers are some of the leading parcel providers in Europe in terms of reliability. DPD (1.14 days), Yodel International (1.17 days), Parcel Force (1.23 days) and Royal Mail (1.26 days) are the speediest couriers too. 


2) Cross-border deliveries

However, while the UK’s relatively smaller area and established road network helps with domestic delivery speed, the UK lags behind other European nations when it comes to cross-border deliveries with the UK-Ireland route fastest at an average of 3.08 days. On the other hand, French and German couriers deliver to the Netherlands in less than two days (1.68 days and 1.82 days respectively). 

Given almost 40% of e-commerce sellers only sell on one marketplace, the ability of couriers to reach customers in more than one country can make a big difference to your e-commerce revenue. For example, without Amazon in Portugal, many Portuguese e-commerce customers receive deliveries from Spanish couriers when ordering from Amazon.es. Meanwhile, with Germany exporting over €1.6 billion of goods to Denmark, selling on a German marketplace and using a German courier enables you to access the Danish market too. 

With cross-border deliveries on the rise (54% intend to make a cross-border purchase in 2024), choosing a courier with cross-border delivery is key. 


3) Sustainability options

It’s not all about delivery speeds and reliability. Over half (53%) of e-commerce buyers want more sustainable deliveries and 69% are willing to pay more for greener delivery, while a UK Royal Mail report found that three-quarters (76%) of e-commerce shoppers support fully recyclable packaging. 

In addition, sustainability preferences vary per country. For instance, Italian courier GLS Italy has a heightened focus on sustainability using electric vehicles for last-mile delivery and bicycle couriers in urban environments, while 27% of Belgian and UK shoppers consider the sustainability of a delivery when making a fashion purchase. 

Given innovative sustainability is one of 2024’s key trends, looking for couriers with green processes and delivery options can help you stand out. 


Check marketplace partnerships 

As an e-seller, you’re entitled to build a partnership with one or more couriers across different markets. But if you sell on marketplaces, you should consider whether that marketplace already has a preferred courier partner(s). For more information, get in touch with Rich Insight.

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Choosing couriers in Europe? 3 things to look for in 2024

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