As cross-border e-commerce continues to thrive in Europe, with a value of €179.4 billion in 2022, more selling partners are recognising the potential of the EU's Single Market and online marketplaces to expand their business. Amazon's figures show that by 2022, more than 275,000 European small and medium-sized entrepreneurs were already selling through Amazon stores, with as many as 40% of them exporting their products within Europe.
The value of export sales was made possible, among other things, by Amazon's investment dedicated to enhancing the digital and export capabilities of entrepreneurs throughout Europe through investments in technology, infrastructure, and sales tools. The company has allocated €8 billion in 2022.
“Our role is to facilitate international expansion for entrepreneurs without requiring significant investments. We aim to empower SMEs to freely tap into the benefits of the EU Single Market. Third-party sellers, many of which are SMEs, account for about 60% of Amazon's total sales. We understand that, in addition to open borders, they require the tools, experience, and knowledge of cross-border e-commerce to kickstart their export endeavours. That's why we are sharing our expertise, which has already benefitted 275,000 entrepreneurs, enabling them to sell their products across nine European Amazon marketplaces and reach millions of customers.” – Benedikt Berlemann, Director of EU Marketplace Expansion at Amazon, expressed his thoughts on the company's mission.
Polish companies are also looking more and more boldly toward foreign customers. Already more than 75% of Polish entrepreneurs selling on Amazon have decided to export into other parts of the European Union. The most popular destinations were Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Spain, and the most popular product categories were: Home, Beauty, Apparel, Kitchen and Home Appliances and Sports. In 2022, the value of export sales amounted to PLN 4.4 billion, 15% more than in 2021.
To date, more than 600 Polish SMEs have surpassed the PLN 1 million sales threshold on Amazon, including more than 40 for the first time in 2022. Additionally, a total of 1,700 entrepreneurs have already reached the PLN 100,000 threshold, and among them over 200 achieved this for the first time last year. In 2022 alone, Polish SMEs sold more than 25 million products on Amazon (an average of 50 items every minute).
Enabling Access to Knowledge and Resources
In 2020, Amazon launched the Amazon Small Business Accelerator (ASBA), a free online education programme in Europe. The programme provides participants, depending on their location, with access to online training, expert advice, and industry events. Building on this initiative, the European Expansion Accelerator (EEA) was introduced in April 2023, supporting sellers and facilitating growth across all nine Amazon stores in Europe, including eight in the EU and the UK. This initiative grants customers access to millions of products.
This is not the only project to facilitate international expansion for Polish entrepreneurs. June 2023 saw the debut of Cross-border.pl, Poland's first educational portal dealing extensively with export sales issues on the internet, which the Polish Chamber of Commerce is co-developing with Amazon.
“In theory, selling in Europe has no borders, but we know that in practice, entrepreneurs face various barriers such as language, administrative, and legal challenges. We want to demonstrate that cross-border e-commerce does not have to be difficult. With online channels, foreign sales can develop easily and rapidly, particularly when coupled with access to an expert knowledge base” – stated Karolina Opielewicz, a board member of the National Chamber of Commerce.
“We recognise that knowledge and access to the right tools are key motivators for entrepreneurs to embark on selling internationally. That's why we facilitate e-commerce development through the European Expansion Accelerator programme and share our expertise, as seen in initiatives like Cross-border.pl, enabling entrepreneurs to acquire the necessary competencies for international sales expansion. Ultimately, this benefits customers who gain access to over 400 million products on Amazon.pl” – adds Aleksandra Borycka, Head of Marketplace, Amazon.pl, emphasising the priority placed on entrepreneur education.
Cross-border E-commerce in Polish
Entrepreneurs already selling on Amazon acknowledge that expanding through the marketplace was a fundamental aspect of their business plans. “The desire to go beyond borders was the primary reason for our decision to sell on Amazon in 2018. Today, we sell our products in 10 European countries and are considering a return to sales in Japan and the United States after a pandemic-induced hiatus” – explains Kamil Luberecki, owner of the Packshi brand. Luberecki highlights their exponential growth, stating, “In 2022, we sold 16,000 products on Amazon, representing a 200% increase from the previous year. We continuously analyse potential markets and test new products to complement our existing category. We can afford to do so thanks to the stable business model of the world's largest marketplace.”
Sellers on Amazon have the flexibility to choose from different models of cooperation. They can manage orders themselves or leverage Amazon’s global distribution network by utilising the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) program. FBA offers services such as warehousing, receiving, packing, delivery, customer service, and returns processing. Over 40% of Polish SMEs have already taken advantage of this option.
“Our company would not have achieved this level of growth without the tools we get thanks to selling on Amazon. Thanks to this partnership, our socks are now available in over 80 countries. We receive comprehensive support, including advertising, logistics, and sales tools. Through services like Fulfilment by Amazon, my team and I have more time to focus on developing the business, such as conceptualising new products and building our brand. To summarise, Amazon's services are truly comprehensive” – says Cyprian Iwuć, owner of Rainbow Socks.
With a strong presence in the European Union, Amazon directly employs over 250,000 people and collaborates with entrepreneurs worldwide, granting them access to a vast customer base comprising hundreds of millions of customers. To ensure continued benefits for customers, Amazon maintains development teams in various centres, focusing on cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning.