Remote control

In the UK alone, the online retail channel accounts for in the region of 12 per cent of all consumer spending and, incredibly, it is forecast to reach 40 per cent in the not too distant future.

In Germany, Italy and France, the picture is similar. E-commerce is booming in the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden and Denmark – too.

So it is perhaps surprising that many of the US's most successful online retailers continue to overlook the opportunities that exist in Europe, where consumers have embraced internet shopping with the same enthusiasm as the American public.

Historically of course, for most companies, a move in to a new and previously untapped territory was fraught with potential pitfalls – not the least of which was the inevitable financial risk involved in establishing an overseas presence.

Personnel, building space and marketing costs all had to be factored in to the business plan before even the most tentative steps could be taken.

But with the explosion in internet shopping and the growing range of bespoke services that Europe's specialist online order fulfilment and logistics companies can undertake on behalf of their clients, this has changed.

"US companies who want to exploit the online market for their products in Europe can take advantage of the infrastructure that's already here. They don't need to have bodies on the ground or a head office building," says William Walker, head of sales and marketing at England-based fulfilment specialist, Walker Logistics.

One American company currently establishing a strong presence in Europe, despite having no staff or facilities outside the USA, is Aquis.

Aquis's collection of specially designed hair-drying towels and turbans has sold in thousands across the USA and European consumers are responding enthusiastically to the company's products.

Walker Logistics is providing picking, packing and fulfillment services for online sales of the Aquis range across Europe.

In addition, Walker support Aquis with call centre services to deal with customer enquiries and ensure streamlined and seamless interaction between all stages of customer engagement and the order fulfilment process.

"The Aquis model is an interesting one and demonstrates how firms from outside Europe are increasingly deploying lean start up strategies to target the European market," says William Walker.

"Initially at least, Aquis plans to develop its presence in the personal grooming market this side of the Atlantic from its base in California and we are providing all the operational support the company needs to do it," he adds.

Other US-based companies that have partnered with Walker in a similar way as they develop their share of the European e-retail market include an eco-friendly cosmetics producer, a leading manufacturer and supplier of wool and knitting accessories to hobby shops and other specialist retailers and a well known producer of a range of mobile phone accessories.

Walker Logistics' links with the US go back a long way; the company is situated on the site of a former US air base which was used a transport hub during World War II.

"We are extremely proud of our links to the USA and are delighted to be able to help more and more US-based companies break into the European market without ever having to leave the States," said William Walker.

Comments (0)

Add a Comment

This thread has been closed from taking new comments.

Editorial: +44 (0)1892 536363
Publisher: +44 (0)208 440 0372
Subscribe FREE to the weekly E-newsletter