Four Things American Retailers Need to Know about European Customers

arbuckles coffees wooden crate on grass

One of the biggest mistakes American brands make when launching in Europe, is assuming that European consumers will behave the same way American consumers behave. This mistake can lead to the heartache of low sales numbers and/or poor customer satisfaction. We talked to European order fulfillment experts at our partner facility in the Netherlands to identify the four most important things retailers need to know about European customers.

1. Each country’s residents have their own preferred ecommerce platforms

Where American consumers generally stick to Amazon, eBay, and a handful of niche marketplaces depending on the type of product they’re looking for, European consumers are much more diverse in their use of ecommerce platforms. Each country and region of Europe has its preferred marketplaces. Retailers who fail to offer products on the target country’s preferred platforms will see disappointing sales results.



  1. Magento
  2. PrestaShop
  3. Drupal Commerce
  4. OXID EShop
  5. RBS Change
  6. WooCommerce
  7. OpenCart
  8. Shopify

2. Consumers Care Which Carrier Delivers Their Package

Pallet packing Pallet packing

American consumers generally don’t mind whether their package comes by USPS, UPS, or Fed Ex—so long as it comes when they expect it. European consumers, however, care a great deal which carrier brings the package, and their preference is probably not UPS or Fed Ex. Europeans do not, as a general rule, receive packages at home. Instead, they will usually rent a drop box near their home or work, where packages can be signed for and then picked up at their convenience. Because these drop boxes are specific to their local carrier or some other carrier of choice, they expect to be able to choose which one brings their package.

3. They Won’t Buy It Just Because It’s “American”

Once upon a time, the myth goes, American goods were all the rage. You could pack blue jeans and brownie mix in a suitcase and sell them for ten times their normal retail value in Europe. Whether that was ever true or not, the fact is that today’s Europeans are not star-struck at the idea of goods coming out of America. Unless you’re marketing to a niche audience (such as ex pats, for instance), labeling your product as “American” (and marketing it in English) won’t give you as much mileage as you might hope.

4. They Expect to Receive Service in a Language They Understand

Okay, in this regard they’re not so different from American consumers. If you want to irritate Americans, a surefire method is to outsource customer service to an Indian call center with non-native speakers who accent is so pronounced they have to repeat themselves three times to be heard. Europeans feel the same way—about American call centers. It’s true that some consumers for whom English is a first, or strong second, language, an English-speaking customer service department may be quite adequate. Others, however, whose English skills may not be as strong or who may not speak English at all, will expect to receive customer care in a language that makes sense for them.

Finding your market in Europe is no easy task, but once you achieve the audience you need, do what is best for your customers. Provide each buyer the confidence and support they need to become a lifelong ambassador for your brand.


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