If you are a B2B company outside the European Union looking to choose and implement the best warehousing option in Europe, this blog post is for you.
Delivering to clients in the European Union is challenging, especially if they ask for small quantities or often need your help with import procedures. Moreover, shipping products from abroad increases your clients' delivery time.
As a result, you're thinking of warehousing your products in Europe and, more specifically, in the European Union. As you may have noticed, it's easier said than done. There are various strategies you could implement and considerations to think of beforehand, and this article is here to provide you with valuable information about it.
Advantages of warehousing in Europe
Before we jump on the various solutions, we'd like to outline the significant advantages.
According to a survey, 85 percent of marketing executives said in 2019 that delivery is "moderately to very important" to their brand and customer experience. The B2C delivery experience is now more and more expected in the B2B environment: delivering in the fastest way possible, at the lowest costs, and with all the paperwork done quickly. In addition, receiving total deliveries instead of partial deliveries to group the employees' tasks is now expected from B2B clients as they also want to reduce operational costs.
Warehousing in Europe is an excellent option for companies expanding their reach and accessing multiple EU markets. By operating in a single European country, businesses can take advantage of the enormous market potential represented by the +25 other countries in the European Union or Schengen Area.
It is also a unique opportunity to streamline logistics, reduce costs, and increase efficiency by consolidating distribution operations in one location. Furthermore, warehousing in Europe offers businesses a strategic advantage by providing a central location well-connected to major transportation routes, making it easier to move products across borders and reach customers in different parts of the continent.
By leveraging the benefits of warehousing in Europe, companies can tap into a vast network of customers and grow their business sustainably and profitably.
Where to locate my warehouse in Europe?
There's no quick answer to this question, but there are multiple factors to consider when choosing your warehouse location in Europe:
- Finding your ideal and current customers' locations
- Choosing a country that will be easier for administrative tasks (Schengen-area based, European-Union based, both of them?)
- Selecting a country with good infrastructure (sea, road, air)
- Costs of shipments
- Duration and flexibility of this solution in your business plan
- Easiness of employee management (hiring, firing, pensions, salaries), if you open your own warehouse
- Support needed, and costs of the support (services and warehouse requirements, such as dangerous goods, space required, etc.)
Let's develop some of the points mentioned above further.
Ideal and current customers' locations. You will need to know where your current European clients are and most of the ideal ones you'd like to address, too. Sometimes, the two locations are different. In this case, you'll need to prioritize your needs. Locating a warehouse in Europe is primarily to be closer to your clients.
Choosing a country that is easier for administrative tasks. You can locate your warehouse in multiple countries in Europe, but crossing borders isn't the same between all of them. Some countries are part of the Schengen area but not included in the European Union (like Switzerland); others are in the European Union but not yet in the Schengen area (for example, Cyprus and Ireland), and finally, some countries are not in the EU, nor Schengen area. Depending on the location, that will mean more paperwork for your employees and the logistics companies.
Selecting a country with good infrastructure. It will benefit you to have a country where:
- Highways are efficient and maintained.
- Import ports are big enough to handle international traffic and have a quick merchandise turnaround.
- Airports are nearby for emergency shipments and rapid access to your stock.
Western European countries like Belgium or France would be excellent options.
Duration and flexibility of this solution in your business plan. Are you running a business that is making a constant turnover in Europe? Or are you expecting to grow your EU market? If you want to increase your sales, investing in your warehouse is easier only when you have recurring revenues and a clear view of the space you need in the long run. Whether you are testing the waters or want to see the consequences of having a local warehouse on your sales, selecting a flexible solution where you don't commit to a specific building or site would be clever. Hiring employees is another commitment you want to make only when you know your costs and benefits. Some flexible solutions to prevent commitment to building and employees would be, for example, to work with a classic logistics company or with us with the all-in-one and flexible solution we provide.
What are the B2B logistics solutions available in Europe?
There are multiple solutions available in Europe to locate a warehouse; they all have pros and cons. The three main ones are:
- Buying or leasing a site for your company and warehousing yourself
- Subcontracting to a 3PL or a logistics company
- Working with our all-in-one solution of Invoicing/Warehousing/Distribution in Europe
My own warehouse in Europe
It is the ultimate solution for companies with recurring and stable sales. You are a company that has been selling in Europe for many years; you have grown your sales up to a comfortable point, and locating a warehouse in Europe is to give better customer service and decrease your costs. This solution is for you.
You don't expect to sell more by opening a warehouse in Europe, and as a result, you're ready to commit to a specific site (buy or lease) and hire warehouse employees within your legal entity. By doing so, you are controlling every aspect of the supply chain and can reduce costs. In addition, you will provide better customer service: personalized orders, adaptation of delivery times, etc.
To set up this solution, you must implement a site selection strategy and have your complete management team working on the project: the purchasing department, logistics, site managers, finance and legal department, etc.
A 3PL or logistics company in Europe
Contracting with a 3PL or a logistics company is the most common solution when you don't choose to open your warehouse. A 3PL logistics company performs transportation, pick and pack, warehousing, and distribution.
You can either:
- Choose to store goods in a logistics company that wouldn't pick and pack. You deliver them a whole package, they keep it, and later push the same package to your customers whenever needed.
- Contract with a 3PL company where they pick products from your stock at their warehouse, pack the goods, and deliver them to your customers.
There is no better solution between the two; it depends on your activity, your customers' needs, and your costs.
The new all-in-one solution: Invoicing/Warehousing/Distribution in Europe
This solution is unique in the European market. We have partnered with a B2B online platform and warehouse in Belgium to provide a complete solution that alleviates all the problems for foreign manufacturers. You have a single contact managing all the aspects of your distribution and supply chain. The solution includes:
- Importing your products in Europe
- Storing them in Belgium in a 5000 square meter warehouse
- Placing your products on a B2B online ordering platform, your clients can order directly on the platform, and your distributors and sales agents too (at their negotiated rate)
- Price lists are updated regularly at your will or even in real-time, from 1 to thousands of products
- Possibility to show publicly product pages in French, English, and Dutch for increased SEO and marketing
- Customer service in French and English to help clients place orders and solve delivery issues
- Invoicing your B2B European clients on your behalf, respecting local taxes and VAT
- Invoicing you for your products whenever an order is placed
- Your stock belongs to you; ownership is transferred only when a product is taken from your stock to be sold to your customers
- Picking and Packing
- Personalized products and packing possible
- Distribution and deliveries across Europe, including Switzerland.
To learn more about this outstanding solution, consult our dedicated webpage. You can contact us to describe your European warehousing needs if you want further information. We will gladly help you find the perfect solution.
In conclusion, warehousing in Europe is an excellent opportunity for businesses to expand their reach and streamline logistics operations. By leveraging the benefits of warehousing in Europe, companies can tap into a vast network of customers and grow their business sustainably and profitably. However, there are multiple factors to consider when choosing your warehouse location, such as finding ideal and current customer locations, selecting a country with good infrastructure, and picking a flexible solution that aligns with your business plan. We hope this article has provided valuable information and practical solutions to help you make an informed decision about warehousing in Europe.