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E-commerce News & Trends - The Latest Info for Online Shops in Europe

23.09.2022, 60m

Welcome to E-commerce News & Trends (formerly known as E-commerce Compact), the series where we update you on the latest news in the world of online shopping, digital marketing, SEO, social media, and everything related to the world of e-commerce. We update this page every other Friday, so feel free to bookmark us.

In today's article (23 of September) , learn about:

Want to dig into some past news? Here is a list of our most recent updates:

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23th of September update:

Microsoft introduces new ad features: multi-platform and multimedia ads

Microsoft has issued the launch of several new ad features for the Microsoft Advertising platform.

In a blogpost on the Microsoft Advertising blog, the US tech corporation revealed plans to launch a feature that will allow marketers to run their ads not only on Microsoft surfaces and its several search engines and platforms, but also on Google, Instagram, and Facebook.

The all-in-one feature “multi-platform ads” feature has now been integrated to Smart Campaigns within the advertising platform.

“Not only do we provide a single place for the management and analytics of your campaigns across platforms, but we also bring the power of Microsoft AI, which automatically optimises your budget for the best performance across all these platforms,” Kenneth Andrew, Vice President, Global Small Medium and Channel Partner for Microsoft Advertising, said in the blogpost.

 

For now, multi-platform ads aren’t available to all marketers yet. However, it is possible to sign up for a waitlist.

To learn more about the new multi-platform ads, you can go to the Microsoft Advertising help center.

Recommended Reading: Microsoft Ads: Better than Google Ads?

Apart from communicating the launch of multi-platform ads, Microsoft has announced the roll-out of a new ad format.

The so-called “multimedia ads” are displayed at the top of the SERPs in Bing, in Microsoft 11, and Microsoft Start.

According to Microsoft, the new ad format is to allow for better and more visual storytelling that brands can benefit from.

“Our brain processes visual content at an incredibly high speed. By one estimate, visuals communicate information 60,000 times faster than text. Additionally, content with imagery results in 50% more recall. In today’s age of big data, people are receiving much more information than ever, and visual content can uniquely cut through the static,” Microsoft explains in the announcement published on the Advertising blog.

All advertisers in all the countries where Bing is available can now create and run multimedia ads.

Instagram plans to eliminate the Shop tab

In 2020, Instagram created a dedicated tab allowing users to shop for products they like directly on the social media platform.

Now, as news site The Information reported, the social network is planning to step away from some of its shopping features and instead focus on boosting advertising and content creation on the platform.

However, Instagram isn’t planning to abandon e-commerce efforts for the app entirely. The Meta owned company has also announced a replacement of sorts for the current Shop tab: “Tab Lite”.

A simpler and less personalised version of the Shop tab will be tested in the upcoming months.

What separates great social media ads from ordinary ones? We've got the answer! Check out our whitepaper on how to create social media ads that generate more sales. You can download our whitepaper now: ⬇️

7-tips-for-social-media-ads-that-generate-sales

Shopify simplifies localisation and cross-border selling

As the popular e-commerce provider announced in the Shopify newsroom, the former “Shopify Markets” section for cross-border sales was upgraded to “Shopify Markets Pro”.

Shopify Markets Pro is powered by a partnership with Global-e and was created to help merchants easily expand their businesses to more than 150 countries worldwide.

 

In the course of the relaunch, a new app for the Shopify Markets section was launched. With the new “Translate and Adapt” app, Shopify aims at simplifying the localisation process for online merchants when selling internationally.

Shopify merchants that wish to expand their online shop to other markets, can now use the app to get their website translated to the respective language and create localised content for their respective target groups.

Recommended Reading: 
Internationalisation: Localise Your Website to Sell Abroad

9th of September update:

What the mourning period for the Queen means for your business

Queen Elizabeth II's passing on September 8, 2022 is certainly a sad day for the UK and its friends around the world. After holding the crown for over 70 years and standing as a symbol of the UK through high points and lows, her passing has triggered a period of national mourning. 

King Charles III has now requested this period of mourning be extended until 7 days after her funeral, which is set to take place on September 19th. 

Through this time of mourning, it's important to know what this means for those running businesses in the UK.

It's worth noting that it has not yet been decided whether the day of the funeral will be declared a bank holiday or a day of national mourning, which means it will be up to individual businesses to decide whether or not they will work.

At least in London, it is expected many businesses close to the route of the procession will be closed. 

In shops across the country, you can expect that on-going promotions will not be pushed very hard and the music played inside physical shops will reflect the national mood.

What about the media? Companies on social media are also expected to shift towards a more somber mood on their pages. Many are already sharing messages of grief and condolences. 

As far as televion, the BBC will suspend any comedy shows during the mourning period while other channels will most likely do similar things to mark the occassion. 

It's also worth noting that the strikes planned by Royal Mail and RMT rail workers has been suspended as a mark of respect. The Royal Mail workers strike was originally planned for Friday 9 September, while the railway strikes were planned for 15 and 17 September. 

Google launches Helpful Content Update

Google has announced the launch of a new update to its search algorithm. The release of the so-called “Helpful Content Update” is to ensure that websites displaying quality content will rank higher in Google search results in the future.

"Helpful content" is thereby considered as content that offers added value to users, as well as a positive user experience (UX).

Recommended Reading:
What is UX and Why is It Important for Your Online Shop?

As Google explained in a Tweet, while quality content for website visitors will be rewarded by the search engine’s algorithm, content that was primarily created for the purpose of search engine traffic is most likely to face downgrades in ranking.

The update will not only affect the respective content and specific pages, but have an impact on the entire website’s performance in Google.

The roll-out of the update has already started at the end of August for English-speaking websites and search queries.

What can webmasters do now?

In order for your content and your entire website to rank high in Google’s SERPs from now on, you will have to consider the following criteria, among others, when creating and updating your content:

  • Make sure to create “people-first content”. Write for real people (and potential customers), instead of creating content for search engines.

  • Address a specific target group with your content. Think of who will find your content particularly helpful and direct your content to them.

  • Create unique and relevant content that will offer added value to your readers.

  • Try to answer all the questions that readers might have when looking for answers on a specific topic. Does your content give all the answers that users look for when searching in Google?

For more information on the Helpful Content Update, you can visit the Google Search Central Blog.

Recommended Reading: Creating a blog to help your business grow

TikTok introduces new Shopping Ads

In a blog post, TikTok has issued the roll-out of a new ad format.

Businesses registered for TikTok for Business can now run Video Shopping Ads, Catalog Listing Ads, and LIVE Shopping Ads to promote their brand and products on the popular social media platform.

“Shopping Ads is a simpler, smarter, and more advanced ad solution that helps brands meet shoppers wherever they are in the purchase journey, sparking demand and boosting sales”, TikTok illustrates.

Recommended Reading:
#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt: What to Know About the Shopping Trend

Video Shopping Ads, for example, will be displayed to TikTok users on the For You page as shoppable product videos.

If the product shown in the video ad is to their liking, users can add the product to their shopping bag and purchase it. In the course of a testing, the ad format was rolled out globally and is now available to all brands and marketers using TikTok worldwide.

Catalog Listing Ads, on the other hand, are for the time being only available in the United States. This ad format allows brands and marketers to promote their product catalogue on the app.

The so-called LIVE Shopping Ads can be created and run in countries where the TikTok Shop feature is accessible (in the United Kingdom and several Asian countries). Using Live Shopping Ads, businesses are able to showcase their products live on the For You page.

TikTok has partnered with e-commerce providers such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Ecwid, and WooCommerce to enable purchases through shopping ads.

Trusted Shops reviews on social media

 

26th of August update: 

Delays in delivery expected in the UK: Royal Mail workers announce strikes

Due to a dispute about pay, postal workers for British postal service and courier company Royal Mail have announced strike actions. The postal service company issued strikes for 26 August and more strike action to follow on 31 August and 8 and 9 September 2022.

As Statista found, Royal Mail held by far the biggest share in the UK courier market in 2020.

More than 100,000 postal workers are now expected to go on strike, while several members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have announced to do so on August 26, 27 and 30.

crisis checklist download link

According to the company, letters won’t be delivered at all on strike days.

Royal Mail is urging customers and retailers to post items and parcels as early as possible before the strike days.

Continue to post your items at postboxes or post offices. However, collections will be less frequent on days when strike action is taking place,” the company recommends.

“Items posted the day before, during or in the days after any strike action will be subject to delay. We will provide further details of the expected delays to items during the period of industrial action.”

Optimise your online shops logistics in order to boost your conversion rates! Check out our free whitepaper on optimising logistics for e-commerce businesses: ⬇️

Optimise Logistics Whitepaper

Consumers consider product reviews helpful

When shopping online, many consumers turn to product and service reviews to help them in their decision to buy. In fact, reviews form a large part of search results.

As the importance of online reviews is increasing, ignoring negative reviews from dissatisfied customers is nothing that online shop owners should be doing.

In the course of the Global Consumer Survey conducted by Statista, it was found that many consumers throughout Europe find product ratings particularly helpful.

In the United Kingdom, for example, half of the survey’s respondents said product ratings helped them when shopping online. In Italy, on the other hand, 54% of consumers found product ratings in e-commerce useful.

In comparison, Swiss online shoppers seems to be more skeptical when it comes to product reviews. Only 40% of Swiss respondents consider them helpful.

statista global consumer survey results on product ratings

Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey

Recommended Reading: Why Only Collecting Reviews Isn't Enough Anymore

Meta introduces new ad features

Last year, the Meta group introduced a dedicated hub where marketers can access all of Meta’s automated ad features – Meta Advantage. The hub was created with the aim of simplifying work processes for advertisers while enabling personalised ads based on AI technologies.

Now, the group has launched new automation tools for the Advantage hub.

Advantage + Shopping Campaigns were developed for direct-to-consumer and retail advertisers. Using AI technologies, they help advertisers identify which ad campaigns are the most lucrative.

“Advantage+ shopping campaigns help advertisers get smarter and faster on which campaigns are converting. It eliminates the manual steps of ad creation and automates up to 150 creative combinations at once. This helps advertisers more quickly learn what ads are working, while making the most of their advertising budget,” Meta explains.

According to Meta, even small business can now create automated ads, directly on their Facebook Page.

With the Advantage+ Creative and Advantage Audience features, ads can be displayed differently and in a customised way, depending on who is seeing the ad.

Recommended Reading:
Creating Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Business Accounts

New features for the Advantage+ app campaigns were also added. These include more flexibility in the combination of assets for creatives, a seven-day click attribution capabilities, new split testing capabilities and more granular reporting insights for the performance analysis of the ads (e.g. based on regions).

Apart from this, Meta also launched a new function allowing marketers to upload images and video content in the Advantage+ Creative section. This way, ads containing this creative elements can be automatically set up.

 


12th of August update:

Deadline for phasing out third-party cookies in Google is postponed

Search engine giant, Google, has once again decided to postpone the deadline for phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome.

In 2020, Google first announced plans to phase out third-party cookie tracking in the Chrome web browser in the future. Last year the deadline was set for mid-2023.

Now, in a blog post, the tech giant announced a new delay of the phase-out deadline.

According Google, advertisers and marketers now have until mid-2024 to find alternative tracking methods for their marketing measures.

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Source: shutterstock.com/fizkes

Anthony Chavez, Vice President of Google's Privacy Sandbox, stated on the Google Blog:

“The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome. This feedback aligns with our commitment to the CMA to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions.”

According to Chavez, the test phase for the newly developed sandbox APIs is to start at the end of August, giving advertisers and marketers the opportunity to prepare for the time after third-party cookies have been phased out and get to know alternative tracking technologies from Google.

Based on the feedback, the search engine company intends to make further adjustments and optimisations to the new APIs.

Recommended Reading: 
12 Tips for Creating Perfect Google Shopping Ads

E-commerce provider OsCommerce launches new version

OsCommerce, one of the most well-known eCommerce software providers, has launched a new version.

Just like before, the new v4 version is to stay an open-source and free-of-charge tool for online shop owners.

With the new version, the company introduces various new design templates and improved security settings, among other things. In addition, shop owners can now access different sales channels.

What is more, the v4 version includes a visual editor, a content management system, advanced functions for stock and product management, and an open API.

The e-commerce provider is currently used by 46,000 online shops.

Good to know: Our Trusted Shops solutions work well with OsCommerce and allow for an easy integration.

Build trust and sell more with Europe's most recognised trustmark!

Check out our free whitepaper on the quality criteria needed to show the Trusted Shops Trustmark on your website: ⬇️

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New Twitter feature: Promoting business information in the profile

Twitter has announced the worldwide rollout of another new feature dedicated to businesses. In a blogpost, the social media platform said that Location Spotlight would launch globally and more tools for professionals were to be expected soon.

With the new Location Spotlight feature, businesses with a local shop or physical location can add their shop’s (or office’s) address, opening hours and other additional contact information at the top of their Twitter profiles.

This way, followers and potential customers can easily get in touch with businesses they are interested in.

In addition, businesses are able to visually show their directions with a location pin on a small cutout of a Google map. Twitter users can click on the map to receive directions that will navigate them to the local business’ location.

“As we scale the Location Spotlight, we’re also giving it an extra boost that can help professionals drive their customers further down the path to purchase,” Twitter said.

Twitter also revealed that more features for professionals such as a centralised hub with more insights about a businesses’ performance on the platform, as well as more additional spotlight features allowing companies to display more information in their profile, are to be launched soon.

Recommended Reading: 
9 Tips for Successfully Promoting Your Business on Twitter

 


1st of August update:

Online shoppers prefer a personalised shopping experience

When it comes to personalisation in e-commerce, we’re not referring to a new shopping preference. More and more customers expect brands and online shops to offer a personalised and intuitive shopping experience.

Twilio’s "State of Personalization Report" now found that online shoppers value personalisation. From April to May 2022, Twilio surveyed a total of over 3,000 consumers and 300 companies from the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, and 11 other countries.

cw-people-smiling-customers-personalisation-w720h405

shutterstock.com/Rawpixel.com

62% of those interviewed said that they would abandon an online shop if they didn’t feel that the personalisation offered by the online shop was enough. Instead, the respondents said, they would switch shops and buy from the competition.

After having experienced a personalised shopping journey, 49% of the surveyed consumers said that they would likely become repeat customers – even if other online shops had cheaper or more convenient offers.

 The interviewed company leaders on the other hand reported that 80% of their customers spend more when their shopping experience was personalised.

Recommended Reading:
How to Personalise Your Customer Journey in the Digital Age

However, many of the customers said they were reluctant to give out their personal information for personalisation purposes. Only 40% trust brands and online shops to keep their personal data safe and use it responsibly.

 Trust remains the most important aspect in e-commerce. But how can you convey trust and convince potential customers that your online shop is trustworthy?

Check out our whitepaper below and learn how to build a trustworthy website to improve your shop's sales:

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Instagram introduces new features for shops

Instagram has recently added a series of new and promising e-commerce features to its platform, making their intentions of becoming another e-commerce platform obvious once more obvious.

Finding local businesses with Instagram

Another new feature that the social media platform has introduced is the so-called “Instagram Map” allowing users to discover popular businesses nearby.

The Instagram Map will show users a number of locations such as restaurants or sights, as well as local businesses.

Instagram’s map feature shares similarities with Google Maps as local businesses can be filtered by categories or users can save locations or shops they are interested in in their profile.

The map can be found when using the platform’s search bar. On the search results page, users will have to select “places” and then click on a location they want to find. Instagram will then show the respective location or local business on the map.

The feature is now available to all users worldwide.

Recommended Reading:
Why Local Businesses Need to Collect Online Reviews

Selling via direct messages

Instagram users can now buy products and services from certified small businesses directly via chat on Instagram. This new feature was just launched in the US market.

Shops can confirm purchases directly in the chat, create invoices with item descriptions and prices, and request payments.

instagram-feature-selling-via-chat

Source: Meta Newsroom

In addition, the app now allows businesses to set up a digital shop window to showcase their products on Instagram and Facebook.

In a blog post, Meta explained:

“We want to help people start conversations with businesses they care about and help them find and buy products they love in an easy, seamless experience, right from the chat thread.”

Recommended Reading: 4 Ways To Grow Your Business With Messaging Apps

Finding influencers with a dedicated marketplace

As Instagram reported on its Business blog, the platform is currently testing a new hub to help brands find creators and influencers. Like most of its new features, Instagram will first test it in the United States.

With the “Creator Marketplace” hub, brands can easily discover creators for partnerships and influencer campaigns and get in touch with them.

What is more, brands can use the hub to manage campaign processes together with the selected partners, as well as agree on content, compensation and other conditions for future collaborations.

The tests in the US are currently only running on an invite-only basis, meaning that only invited brands can access the Creator Marketplace platform.

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18th of July update:

TikTok steps back from shopping feature

Popular video clip platform TikTok has decided to cancel its own liveshopping feature. In 2021, TikTok launched a feature allowing businesses and influencers to sell products in a livestream.

Despite the huge success of liveshopping in Asia, the feature didn’t meet the company’s expectations in Europe.

According to the Financial Times, an insider revealed that several influencers opted out of the project in the UK. Additionally, the shopping feature hasn’t been as popular among users either yet, making it harder for the feature to gain a foothold in the British market.

Updated for 2021: Learn about the UK market in our free whitepaper!

At first, the Chinese video app intended to roll out the feature in Germany, Italy, France and Spain as well. For now, TikTok has decided to only focus on the UK market instead.

 

But don’t get us wrong: despite this unfortunate development, TikTok remains a relevant channel for brands and online shops as the number of users signing up for the trending app keeps growing.

Recommended Reading: #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt: What to Know About the Shopping Trend

On the other hand, shopping features are still highly popular among Instagram users.

Being one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, Instagram is a great channel you can use to engage with your audience and make your brand stand out.

In our free checklist, we gathered 21 effective tips for selling successfully on Instagram. Download it for free now:

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E-Commerce growth in Europe

In 2021, European e-commerce grew by 13% to €718 billion / £607 billion.

However, despite this, the total number of online purchases slightly declined in 2021.

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shutterstock.com/tippapatt

This was found in the course of the 2022 European E-commerce Report. For the report, Ecommerce Europe, the association in charge of the report, collected data from 37 different European countries.

After the massive boom in the e-commerce sector during the Corona pandemic, growth is now gradually stabilising and starting to normalise.

“In the past two years, retailers have gained a lot of experience in digitalisation. This acceleration was significantly pushed by the pandemic, during which e-commerce and retail played an essential role. These developments are reflected in this report”, Luca Cassetti, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe, commented.

“In 2022, Europe has, unfortunately, become the stage of a major conflict. Though still difficult to evaluate, the war in Ukraine will have major consequences on the European economy, as well as on e-commerce markets. Many of our members have already reported declines in consumer purchasing power and confidence, mostly due to high energy prices, inflation and uncertainty about the future.”

Due to the effects of the war in Ukraine and the rising inflation, consumers are starting to be more cautious in their spending. However, as the report suggests, the industry is still expected to grow by 11% in 2022.

Recommended Reading: How to Calculate and Boost Your Conversion Rates

BigCommerce now available in other European markets

E-commerce provider ,BigCommerce, has announced plans to expand to other European markets.

The software solutions that the provider offers have already been available in several countries, among others, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Spain.

Last year, the company counted around 60,000 merchants in 150 countries.

Recommended Reading: Sales Holidays in Europe: Important Days to Know When Selling Internationally

Now, BigCommerce announced the expansion to the Nordic countries: Norway, Denmark and Sweden in a press release. In addition, BigCommerce has issued plans to enter the Austrian market.

BigCommerce allows local retailers to build their own online shop with local storefronts and to sell internationally. Sellers can offer their products in different languages and currencies, in order to allow for a localised shopping experience.

In fact, the Nordic region is a very mature e‑commerce market.

With the digital and logistical infrastructure in place, the Nordic region is full of potential. Get our free Nordics market analysis now: 

market analysis nordics


4th of July update:

Microsoft introduces its own marketplace

The world's largest search engine's biggest competitor now also wants to gain a foothold in the world of e-commerce.

At the beginning of this year, Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, launched a partnership with e-commerce provider Shopify, enabling Shopify merchants to offer and sell their products in the Shopping tab on Bing.

Now, Bing is working on the launch of its own marketplace that shares quite a few similarities to Google Shopping.

With "Buy Direct", Bing's marketplace, users can start product searches, access information on various products and retailers, and purchase a desired item directly in the marketplace.

Although the implementation of Buy Direct has not been officially announced or confirmed by the Microsoft subsidiary, Bing has already been working on the launch of a marketplace in recent months and involved several US shops in the process.

As Business Insider reported, there are already around 100 US retailers that have access to the hub and are able to showcase their products.

Even though Bing already has a shopping section called "Start Shopping" where users can discover products and with only one click, go to the corresponding online shop to finalise their orders, the new Buy Direct platform will work as a stand-alone shopping platform.

Here, on the platform itself, users can not only spot products they like, but also complete the checkout process.

Sellers can set up their own shops in Buy Direct, while Microsoft handles the transactions. In return, Bing will surely charge a commission for sellers.

Recommended Reading:
Selling Online: Marketplaces Like Amazon & eBay vs. Website

Additionally, shop owners will be able to advertise and target their products within Buy Direct.

For this purpose, Microsoft will provide target group data from LinkedIn (which also belongs to Microsoft), as well as an additional tool to help advertisers manage their ads.

Moreover, in order to attract more sellers to offer their products in the new marketplace, Bing wants to make up for a particularly easy set up and is even offering to have the merchants' Google Shopping ads transferred to Microsoft.

It will probably take some time before Bing's marketplace will officially be launched.

For now, it is hard to tell if the new shopping destination will be an actual alternative and/or threat to Google.

Until then, however, Google will surely be the number 1 destination to advertise and offer your online shop’s products.

Click here for our free step-by-step guide to learn how to get started with Google Shopping and set up your ads:

Trusted Tips: Get our Google Shopping step-by-step guide for free!

You're already familiar with Google Shopping and you would like to know looking how to optimise your ads? We got you covered!

In our free whitepaper, learn our tips to optimise your Google Shopping ads with some more advanced tips:

Google Shopping Optimisation tips

Pinterest launches new ad format

Speaking of advertising: social media platform Pinterest has introduced a new inventive ad feature for creators and online shop owners.

Last year, the so-called “Idea pins” were already launched; now, the app has rolled out a corresponding ad format for Idea pins.

As Pinterest explains, the ad format allows advertisers to "present ideas in action" in the course of a paid collaboration with creators.

Recommended Reading:
Boost Sales with an Influencer Marketing Campaign on Social Media

“Idea ads with paid partnerships can help to scale content beyond the creator’s following. As Pinners see and engage with an Idea ad with paid partnership, they’ll have the option to follow the creator, save the Pin and visit a destination URL provided by the business”, Pinterest describes the new feature.

In other words: Idea ads are creative, multimedia, multi-page ads that combine video content and images.

Users can view a brand's content, visit their website and follow step-by-step DIY instructions - all within the ad.

This means whenever a Pinterest user clicks on the ad, they are taken directly to the respective brand's website for information about the product where they can also purchase the product.

Pinterest-idea-pins-e-com-compact-1

Source: Pinterest / Search Engine Land

In addition, Pinterest also launched a new collaboration tool to make it easier for advertisers and creators to work together on the platform.

For example, influencers can now tag advertising partners in their pins. Brands, in turn, benefit from the authenticity of the content and the enhanced reach of their brand.

What is more, brands can also promote the pins as their own Idea ads in a paid partnership on Pinterest.

Recommended Reading: How to Generate Sales with Pinterest Marketing

Many UK shoppers can’t cover their Buy now, Pay Later orders

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the “Buy now, Pay Later” payment method (BNPL in short) has become one of the most popular online payment methods among online shoppers.

As the name suggests, BNPL allows online shoppers to order from online shops and only having to pay for it after the order was successfully delivered to them.

Some providers such as PayPal or Klarna even allow customers to cover their payment up until 30 days after the order was completed.

No interest or charges are imposed on customers using BNPL – if they manage to pay their invoice on time. Instead, lenders such as Klarna and PayPal charge a commission from online shops.

As the Guardian reported, 30% of British consumers have already used this payment method for their online orders.

However, research now found that around a third (31%) of all BNPL customers were having trouble handling their repayments.

In the course of the survey, 400 decision makers from the retail sector were interviewed. Those offering BNPL in their shops, believe that by the end of 2022, BNPL orders will account for more than 22% of their sales.

 

June 2022 updates:

EU introduces stricter guidelines for pricing & discounts

On 28 May, a series of new EU directives came into force which, among other things, relate to online trade.

We have already discussed the regulations affecting customer reviews in online shops that were set with the so-called EU Omnibus Directive in another article. In our article, The EU Omnibus Directive: The new regulations and how they affect you”, you can read about these changes and how you to implement them.

Apart from the regulations that concern online reviews, the European Union has amended the Price Indication Directive. The directive affects all businesses that sell in the European Economic Area or that are based in one of the member states.

What to know about the new Price Indication Directive

In general, the new regulation aims to improve transparency in price communication.

Since 28 May, the EU has stipulated that online shops and local shops must always indicate the lowest total price of the last 30 days whenever price reductions and discounts of the respective product are concerned.

This is to prevent customers from being deceived with alleged price reductions when shops indicate higher base prices to make discounts and offers seem more appealing.

Often, right before big holiday sales events such as Black Friday or Singles Day, many companies would deliberately increase their prices in order to lower them again on the sales days.

Speaking of holiday sales events: learn about important international sales events and how to include them in your shop’s marketing strategy in our free whitepaper. ⬇️

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From now on, as an online shop or local business owner, you are obliged to display the basic price both on the price tags on site and on the product pages in the online shop, during the checkout, in email communication or in any another sales channel concerned.

However, there are some exceptions:

  • In the case of personalised discounts, it is not mandatory to indicate the previous price of the product. This also applies to promotional codes, vouchers, birthday gifts, and credits or points offered to specific customers.

  • Price fluctuations and discounts that are not being promoted

  • Combined Offers

So far, the European Union has not clarified what exact sanctions will be imposed on business owners who do not comply with the regulations. These may also vary by country.

However, it's not only consumers that can benefit from the adapted guideline. The obligation to price transparency can also represent an opportunity for shop owners.

By communicating the prices you offer in your online shop openly to potential customers, you convey trust. After all, trust is one of the most important marketing tools in the online world and can be an enormous conversion booster for your own online shop as well.

Recommended Reading:
'The Reviews Helped Us Build Trust' (Interview with Decathlon)

Twitter Product Drops: A new feature for online shops

The popular social network has yet again taken further steps towards e-commerce. Twitter recently announced a new feature on its blog that will allow online shops and brands to strengthen their presence on the platform and drive sales.

With "Product Drops", online shop owners will be able to notify their followers and potential customers about upcoming product launches. The feature is the first of its kind for a social media platform.

As soon as a business profile on Twitter tweets about an upcoming product launch, followers will see a "Remind Me" button at the end of the tweet. When they click on this button, they will be receive a notification on the day of the product launch 15 minutes before and at the time of the launch.

Clicking on the notification will take them to the shop's website where they can buy the product.

twitter product drops

Source: Twitter's Blog

Twitter is currently running a test phase for the new feature, only making it available to US users with iOS devices.

According to the social media platform, well-known brands such as Dior, Home Depot and Fossil are now testing Product Drops. However, Twitter is planning to make the feature available to other brands and shops soon.

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9 Tips for Successfully Promoting Your Business on Twitter

Google revolutionises the search 

This year, Google's annual developer conference, the Google I/O, took place on 11 and 12 May. At the event, the tech giant presented its latest hardware, software, and tools.  

Let's look at some of the most important innovations and the most promising announcements of the conference that will affect e-commerce. 

The search engine company is planning to revolutionise the search. With "Multisearch", Google app users have already been able to start image searches in addition to regular text searches.  

Soon, users will also be able to use Multisearch to search for businesses, local shops or restaurants in the vicinity. This “local information” will be rolled out over the course of the year, first in English and then for other languages. 

Google users can then use an image or screenshot to search for local restaurants or shops nearby that sell the products shown in their image using the "near me" filter. 

“Today, we're redefining Google Search yet again, combining our understanding of all types of information — text, voice, visual and more — so you can find helpful information about whatever you see, hear and experience, in whichever ways are most intuitive to you. We envision a future where you can search your whole world, any way and anywhere,” Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President at Google, explains.

Source: Google Keyword Search Blog 

With this new feature being released, having a Google Business Profile for your local business can be a real sales booster.

Tip: Find out everything you need to know to create a successful Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business)  

 Google Business Profile guide

Another innovation that was announced for the Google app: with multi-search, physical locations can be “scanned” and recognised by Google. 

With scene recognition, users can move their smartphone's camera back and forth like taking a panorama picture in order to quickly obtain information about objects that can be recognised in the shot. 

Scene_exploration_1

Source: Google Keyword Search Blog

 


May 2022 updates:

Alternatives to cookies: how to target shoppers in the future

As you probably already know by now, Google is planning to phase out third-party cookies.

Google has already presented its own alternative approaches for targeting potential customers.

It is expected that third-party cookies will finally be banned from the Google Search and Chrome web browser next year.

As market research company eMarketer found out in the course of the "Marketing Trends 2022" report, marketing experts worldwide are already preparing for the elimination of cookies from the largest search engine, Google, and the popular Google-owned web browser.

According to eMarketer, 36% of marketers believe that customers’ purchase histories will be the most valuable source of data after the elimination of cookies.

In turn, 32% think of social media profiles as an important source of information, while 31% of the marketers surveyed plan to rely on the information provided by website registrations in the future.

Google Ads expands campaign feature

Google’s advertising platform, Google Ads, added an extension to one of their popular campaign features.

Performance Max campaigns are based on the individual goals set by marketers in Google Ads. The benefit of Performance Max campaigns is that they run almost automatically.

Among the individual goals marketers have been able to set for their campaigns were “sales”, “local shop visits” ,“promotions”, and “leads”.

Now, Google included another goal that marketers can select for their campaigns: new customer acquisition.

For the time being, this goal can only be selected when setting up a Performance Max ad campaign.

As the name already suggests, the main aim is to generate new customers with the ads displayed in Google. Setting new customer acquisition as their campaign goal, marketers using Google Ads can choose from two different modes in order to better reach the desired goal:

  • Higher bids for new customers than for existing customers with the so-called “New Customer Value mode”

  • Only bids for new customers (“New Customer Only mode”)

Benefits of the new campaign feature include a higher proportion of new customer conversions (so that the advertised business can grow better and be successful in the long run), easy set-up and execution of the campaign, and personalised reportings on newly acquired and existing customers.

Recommended Reading: 12 Tips for Creating Perfect Google Shopping Ads

For more information on the update for Performance Max campaigns, go to the dedicated article in the Google Ads help section.

Fake reviews in the UK are to be outlawed soon

Fake online reviews will soon be made illegal in the United Kingdom. 

The UK government decided to impose new legal measures to guarantee British consumers a safer online shopping experience. This was announced in a recent press release by the UK government.

Writing, paying someone to write, and even displaying fake customer reviews will therefore soon be an illegal action and businesses violating these rules might be fined. Fines of up to 10% of the business’ global annual turnover would then be possible.

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UK consumer minister Paul Scully said: “Consumers deserve better, and the majority of businesses out there doing the right thing deserve protection from rogue traders undermining them.”

According to the UK government, the average British household spends around £900  after having been influenced by online reviews each year.

“Britain’s consumer and competition laws are in desperate need of an upgrade. Doing so would benefit not only consumers but businesses and the wider economy too. That’s why the inclusion of these measures as part of a Consumer and Competition Bill in next month’s Queen’s Speech is vital,” Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy, added.

The reforms “to shield the public from rip-offs and boost competition” also include new regulations that will make it easier for consumers to opt out of subscription “traps”.


April 2022 updates:

Another Update for Product Reviews in Google Search

As we already touched on in a previous issue of E-commerce Compact, Google carried out a hitherto rare update of product reviews last December.

Yet another update has taken place. Just like the previous product review updates, the current March 2022 Product Review Update has only been targeting English-language websites and content.

The roll-out of the third update started March 23, 2022 and was completed on April 11. Promoting quality and trustworthy review content was the main goal of this update.

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Has your website's ranking experienced fluctuations lately? The update may be the cause of it.

Google has updated its Best Practice Guide to help website operators adapt to the update and improve their product review content in order to rank higher in search results.

As user-generated content, product reviews offer many advantages for you as a shop owner as well as for your potential customers. Among other things, they can significantly improve your ranking on Google.

Speaking of reviews: did you know you can also use your product reviews in social media to increase sales and improve the reach of your shop?

In our whitepaper, find out how to successfully display and promote your reviews on social media ⬇️⬇️

social media reviews

EU proposes new regulations to make products more sustainable

In the course of a new package of legislative proposals, the European Commission intends to make it easier for EU consumers to choose sustainable products.

The aim is to promote circular economy models in particular. The EU Commission announced this in a press release.

According to the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI), stricter regulations in terms of energy efficiency and resource consumption will soon be applied to a large number of products.

The European Commission is thus proposing new rules to make product information regarding the sustainability of a given product available, thereby allowing consumers to find out more about the origin and production of a desired product.

These measures are intended to achieve the EU’s goal of achieving the status climate neutrality by 2050.

The textile and construction industry are to be most affected by these changes in EU law.

However, the European Commission is also planning on introducing a digital passport for all physical goods.

“This will make it easier to repair or recycle products and facilitate tracking substances of concern along the supply chain. Labelling can be introduced as well. The proposal also contains measures to end the destruction of unsold consumer goods, as well as expand green public procurement and provide incentives for sustainable products,” the European Commission explains.

Not only consumers are to benefit from digital product information, but also retailers, as they will have better access to product information offered by their manufacturers. This kind of information could then, for example, be used in product descriptions.

The new EU regulations include, among others,...

  • Compliance with the eco-design guidelines for textiles

  • Detailed information on products

  • Digital passport for products

More information on the proposals presented by the European Commission can be found in the official EU press release.

Twitter Shops: Users can now shop directly on Twitter

Another social media platform has decided to expand its e-commerce options. Messaging network, Twitter, has introduced a new section on its platform: Twitter Shops.

This was recently announced on the Twitter blog. According to the network, at first, the new shops feature will be tested in the course of a beta test phase.

Using Twitter Shops will initially only be available on mobile devices and also be free of charge.

Brands that have activated a business profile on the popular platform as well as the Shops feature will be able to compile a selection of up to 50 products that they can present to potential customers as a product catalogue in their Twitter profile.

Unlike the native shopping options on Instagram, however, the actual transactions and checkout processes won’t take place on Twitter itself.

Instead, users must first click on the "Show Shop" button, which will be displayed at the top of profile a brand. Then they will be forwarded to the shop of the respective brand within Twitter and can take a closer look at the products offered.

If customers discover a particular product that they are interested in, they will have to click on the respective item in order to be redirected to the shop’s website.

That is where they then can proceed and finalise their order. This process takes place in an in-app browser that is quite reminiscent of the shopping feature used in the TikTok app.

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For the time being, the Shops module is only available to selected retailers and businesses in the United States. These include brands such as Verizon, Arden Cove, Latinx in Power, Gay Pride Apparel, and All I Do Is Cook.

Last year, Twitter already introduced e-commerce options on its platform. It was possible to showcase up to five products at the top of a brands' business profile.

With Twitter Shops, shop owners now have the possibility to compile a significantly larger product catalogue, which can even contain up to 10,000 products.

Even though only a maximum of 50 items can be displayed in the product catalogue at the same time, it is possible to swap these over time and rotate with the selection.

Twitter Shops as well as the shop module and live shopping feature introduced in 2021 can be managed in the new Twitter Shopping Manager.

In this dedicated tool, online shop and business owners can set up and manage all of the shopping functions offered by Twitter.

Just like the new Shops feature, the Shopping Manager will initially only accessible to partners and selected brands in the US.

However, we can expect that after a successful test phase, the platform will surely roll out Shops and with it the Shopping Manager on a larger scale and make it available in other countries as well.

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March 2022 updates:

Amazon launches incentive program for new sellers

E-commerce giant Amazon has launched a new program to encourage merchants to sell their goods in the world’s biggest online marketplace.

As part of the incentive program, new Amazon merchants are provided with a range of tools to help them get off to a good start on the platform.

New professional retailers who have listed their first product on Amazon on or after January 1, 2022 can benefit from the program.

The popular marketplace currently accounts for more than 1.9 billion active sellers, with more than one million new merchants joining every year.

As more and more companies and brands want to enter the e-commerce world, Amazon, as the largest marketplace in the world, wants to make it easier to sell on its platform.

The “New Seller Incentives Program” offers a wide range of additional benefits and discounts for brands registered with the Amazon Brands Registry from 1 January. This offer includes bonuses with a value of up to 45,000 euros.

Recommended Reading: Should I Only Sell in Marketplaces Like Amazon and eBay or Focus on My Own Website?

Want to learn more about Amazon’s incentive program? More information on the incentives offered and Amazon's "Perfect Launch" initiative can be found here.

Young customers prefer brands with an ethical and eco-friendly brand image

The new “Reshaping retail: how ethics and sustainability are changing retail’s ecosystem” report, published by Barclays Corporate Banking, revealed that business priorities have been changing due to the pandemic and an increased focus on Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) topics.

In cooperation with research consultant Censuswide, Barclays surveyed 2,000 UK consumers and 300 UK-based retailers in the course of the report.

According to the report, two-thirds of younger shoppers (those aged between 16 and 24) wouldn’t continue shopping with their favourite brand due to concerns of business ethics and eco-friendliness.

The majority of those surveyed between the ages of 25 and 34 said they would even switch to a competitive seller upon finding out that a brand didn’t meet their standards in terms of sustainability.

However, millennials and Gen Z consumers said they were open to paying up to 4.55% more for products they find ethically-sound and up to 4.36% more for products that are sustainably sourced.

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The report also revealed that 21% of UK-based retailers have cut ties with suppliers that didn’t meet stringent ethical and sustainable standards.

The majority of the surveyed retailers (51%) stated that for them, sustainability has become more important in the business world. 49% of them said the same applied to ethical standards.

“We are seeing a marked acceleration and shift among retailers towards prioritising sustainable and ethical standards in every part of their business operations. That is now starting to take its toll on retail suppliers with billions of pounds worth of contracts being cancelled every year,” Karen Johnson, Head of Retail and Wholesale, Barclays Corporate Banking, said.

“It’s being driven by increasing consumer demand and will rise even further as Gen Z enter the workplace and begin to earn their own money. Retailers must continue to monitor and improve their ethical and sustainability standards if they are to appeal strongly to younger demographics.”

Recommended Reading: What Steps Can Your Business Take to Go Green?

Google’s cookie alternative is now available on Android devices

Since Google announced their plans to quit supporting third-party cookies on the Chrome browser at some time in 2022, the company has been providing cookie alternatives.

As we brought up in one of our recent editions of E-commerce Compact, the search engine giant recently presented a new alternative API that is meant to protect user data, but also allow ad targeting.

With “Topics”, the Chrome browser can identify different categories mapping the user interests based on their browsing history. 

Now, in a new blog post, Google has issued plans of developing the Topics API for Android devices.

According to Google, the multi-year initiative is aimed at strengthening data protection for mobile users, but at the same time restricting advertisers in terms of targeting possibilities as little as possible.

As Anthony Chavez, VP, Product Management, Android Security & Privacy at Google, explained on the Google blog, 90% of all apps offered in the Google Play App Store were free of charge.

However, this model would allow developers and brands to offer in-app advertising.

Google intends to improve the data protection for in-app ads in the future, but at the same time still grant advertisers and developers targeting options.

“Our goal with the Privacy Sandbox on Android is to develop effective and privacy enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile. While we design, build and test these new solutions, we plan to support existing ads platform features for at least two years, and we intend to provide substantial notice ahead of any future changes,” Anthony Chavez clarified.

Google will now develop and test the new solutions for the Android Privacy Sandbox. The current advertising features used on the Android platform will however, be supported for at least two more years.

Further changes and plans regarding the implementation of cookie alternatives will be announced by Google.

 


February 2022 updates: 

About TikTok’s new ‘Instant Pages’: Better conversion rates for TikTok ads?

To ensure that advertisers not only reach their target group within the popular short video app, but also generate valuable conversions, TikTok has now announced the launch of a new landing page format directly in the app.

According to TikTok, with “Instant Page”, pages are to load up to 11 times faster than with normal mobile pages. 

“When it comes to driving users from an In-Feed Ad to a landing page, every moment counts. A slow or interrupted loading experience could lead to high bounce rates and inefficient conversions,” the Chinese video platform explains on its business blog.

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The new type of landing page was designed to optimise the customer journey for TikTok users and to help brands achieve better results with their ad campaigns in the app. 

Slow-loading landing pages dedicated to featured products on the other hand, would often lead to high bounce rates.

With Instant Pages, however, users are able to view images and videos as well as carousels, interact with buttons, and familiarise themselves with the brand's offer without having to leave the app.

Advertisers will also benefit from using Instant Pages as there will be more options to highlight products, special services, or promotions for users (and potential customers). 

“This not only boosts load time and conversions, but also encourages users to spend more time learning about the brand,” TikTok emphasises.

Marketers will be able to use new and user-friendly modules and templates allowing them to create bespoke page layouts and content.

“TikTok Instant page is designed to meet all of your marketing needs. With Instant Page, brands can reach and engage customers in sales and conversations for optimal campaign results.”

With the new feature, advertisers should be able to drive traffic by attracting prospective customers in the app, increase their reach, raise awareness for their brand, and be able to increase their sales. 

Instant Page is now accessible for all TikTok Business users around the globe and can be used for all In-Feed ad options on TikTok. 

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Google adds desktop usability report to the Search Console

In light of the upcoming Google Page Experience Update, Google now released a new report in the Google Search Console to help website owners prepare for the update and improve their desktop version.

The Search Console hub now includes a "desktop" section in the user experience report to help website owners better understand Google's criteria when it comes to obtaining a positive page experience.

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As an online shop owner, you can use this report to identify elements on your sites that need to be optimised in order to meet the criteria set for the new ranking factor.

We recommend you make sure you make the necessary adjustments to the desktop versions of your pages before Google launches the update. 

Otherwise, you might risk losing your shop’s ranking position in Google. 

You can access the new GSC report by clicking here or by accessing the Google Search Console and clicking on the Usability > Page Behavior tab.

Most European online shops display fake reviews on their website

The European Commission recently found that the majority (two-thirds!) of online shops, marketplaces, booking sites, search engines, and price comparison sites in Europe had misleading or fake reviews.

By displaying such reviews, these websites violate EU law. 

In cooperation with Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC), a network of EU authorities in charge of the enforcement of EU consumer protection laws, the European Commission took into account a total of 223 websites.

According to an EC press release, 144 out of these 223 websites didn’t do enough to ensure they were only displaying authentic reviews.

Recommended Reading: Why Your Online Shop Needs Product Reviews

“Consumers very often rely on online reviews when shopping or booking online. I don't want consumers to be tricked. I want them to be able to interact in a trustworthy environment. I insist on one specific point: online businesses must provide consumers with clear and visible information on the reliability of such reviews. Today's results are a clear call for action. We will ensure EU law is respected”, Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice said.

In addition to many of the reviews on websites being misleading and false, the EU research found that many reviews didn’t even provide any useful information to consumers. 

Apart from this, the research showed that 46% of the websites analysed didn’t inform consumers how they collect and process reviews.

These websites stated that they didn’t know how fake reviews came to be displayed on their website in the first place since only previous customers were able to write reviews. 

Recommended Reading: How to Spot Fake Online Reviews

Moreover, the Consumer Protection Cooperation concluded that the majority (55%) of the analysed websites were violating the EU Unfair Commerce Practices Directive. 

This directive requires EU websites to only make accurate and truthful information accessible to consumers, thus ensuring consumers are informed in the best way possible before they make the decision to buy. 

Therefore, the European Commission has decided to implement stricter laws with the aim of eliminating the number of misleading and fake reviews.

As of May this year, an additional directive will come into force, prohibiting selling, buying and submitting false customer reviews to promote products.

In addition, online shops and other commerce websites will be obliged to inform their customers about the use and purpose of new reviews when asking them to rate their products after a purchase.

 


January 2022 updates:

Bing introduces Shopping function in cooperation with Shopify 

As the biggest search engine in the world, Google has already introduced a series of shopping features in the search.

Now, Google's biggest competitor, Bing, has followed suit. As Bing announced in a blog post, they have launched a shopping feature in collaboration with Shopify. This feature allows all users to discover and directly buy products on the platform.

Since the fall of 2021, online retailers using Shopify have already been able to reach new potential customers in the Microsoft owned search platform and Audience Network.

From now on, whenever Bing users discover one of the products from millions of retailers shown in the Bing search and decide they want to buy it, they can do so using the “Buy Now” button.

A click on this redirects the users directly to the shopping cart. 

This way, Bing users will benefit from a shorter shopping journey - and making Bing transform into another e-commerce platform.

bing-search-shopping-feature-ecommerce-compact

Within the dedicated Shopping section in Bing, users can access even more products offered by Shopify retailers as well as the option to buy them directly via the “Buy Now” button.

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Spotify launches Clickable Ads for Podcasts

Popular audio-streaming platform, Spotify, has decided to introduce call-to-action cards, enabling listeners to better interact with the advertising brands in audio ads in the future. 

According to Spotify, this new ad experience aims at boosting interactions with brands and encouraging shopping.

These so-called “Call-to-Action Cards for Podcast Ads” will not only appear while the ad is running, but also later when users are scrolling through their Spotify app. 

With the new CTA-Cards, for the first time ever, Spotify is introducing a visual and interactive extension format for audio ads.

“CTA cards will appear in the app as soon as a podcast ad begins playing, and will resurface later on while you’re exploring the Spotify app—making it easier to check out the brand, product, or service you heard about while listening. CTA cards will make it easier for you to directly discover the products and services you’re interested in without having a hard-to-remember promo code or vanity URL,” the streaming company explained.

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The idea behind the new feature is to encourage users to engage more with brands and advertising partners, thereby increasing the likelihood of a boost in conversions for the respective advertising brand. 

It is possible for the ad to still appear up to 7 days after users have listened to it and can be displayed in different central locations throughout the app.

Before the launch of this feature, Spotify had already run tests of the CTA cards with selected brands such as Squarespace or McDonald’s. 

According to the company, there were around twice as many website visits with the new ad format compared to ads without visuals. 

Initially, however, Spotify has decided to only enable the usage of this new feature for selected Spotify Original & Exclusive Podcasts in the US. 

At the moment, the streaming company hasn’t indicated any plans to further roll-out this feature for other podcasts or other international markets as well. 

However, if this ad format is proven successful in the US, Spotify will surely offer it in other countries soon as well.

New player in parcel delivery: Instabox to enter Germany

The parcel delivery service, Instabox, will continue its expansion by entering the German market in 2022. The Swedish company has grown immensely in the past two years, seeing revenue grow 6 million to 24 million euros between 2019 and 2020.

The past few years have seen the company expand into Denmark, Norway, and most recently, the Netherlands, where they’ve seen great success.

The company is known for their automated parcel lockers and green home deliveries. They offer same-day delivery (via the parcel lockers) and will be 100 percent fossil-free. The German market is very keen on green solutions, so it will be interesting to see how the company performs there in the next year.

Recommended reading: What Steps Can Your Business Take to Go Green?

Previous updates for 2022: