Is it true that delivery costs are the biggest obstacle to the growth of cross-border e-commerce in Europe?

According to the European Commission, EU e-commerce is growing at just ¾ of the global rate. But the growth of intra-EU cross-border e-commerce cannot be achieved by lower delivery costs alone.

Already, to help online retailers offer the best delivery options to the end consumer, national postal operators have put in place a series of solutions and rates targeted at online retailers, so B2C parcel delivery is made cheaper for e-commerce. This has helped retailers to pass the lower tariffs on to the end-consumers.

However, the biggest obstacles to retailers offering cross-border e-commerce are:

  • Lack of e-skills,
  • Lack of capacity to serve customers in a different language,
  • Regulatory issues like different VAT systems and
  • Different consumer rights requirements.

On top of that, e-commerce trade patterns usually follow geographical and linguistic affinities. Countries that share a language or close ties with another EU country have higher levels of cross-border (intra-EU) e-commerce. For example, Belgian consumers shop mostly from France followed by the Netherlands while Czech consumers buy mostly from Germany followed by Poland. If we look at e-commerce along these linguistic and geographical terms, the levels of growth are encouraging.