Fuelled by the pandemic outbreak, the European industry of ecommerce has grown rapidly, showing a 2–5x increase compared to pre-corona levels. The revenues of European online stores increased by 30% to a record-breaking $465 billion in 2021.
What startups are the prime movers of the post-pandemic era of European ecommerce? We have compiled a list of top 20 online retailers from the UK, France, Germany, and neighboring countries.
Startups from Great Britain
The UK is considered to be a leader of the European startup ecosystem, having the largest share of innovative projects. Indeed, London is a well-known startup city hub where businesses can appear, develop, and prosper.
The subscription-based service Whirli sells tokens that users can later exchange for toys from a catalog. There are different items available, such as books, tabletop games, wooden toys, etc. that cover the ages from 0 to 8.
Users are welcome to use these toys for as long as they want. They are also allowed to return or exchange them for new sets of items — and “It no longer sparks joy” is just as good a reason as any. So hooray, your kids can have new toys every other week!
Instead of buying brand-new expensive items, parents can rent them for cheap. This practice increases the toys’ life cycle, reduces waste, and inspires sustainable consumption. Indeed, green ecommerce and environmental protection are among top business trends of 2022.
Bloom & Wild
This British startup delivers flowers and bouquets that can fit a letterbox. Complimentary to their key products, they also offer a variety of confections, house plants, scented candles, and decor.
From the tech side of things, the startup uses the latest developments of predictive analytics for logistical purposes. It helps them process orders faster, since it’s crucial for flowers to be delivered fresh.
Bloom & Wild is aiming at expanding across all European markets to become the number one delivery service for bouquets and gifts.
A smashing hit among generation Z-ers, Depop is the iconic fashion marketplace to sell, shop, and take inspiration from. The startup developed a convenient app where users can find new and pre-owned clothing and accessories of all styles. By now, over 30 million people signed up for Depop, and the numbers keep growing — especially after an acquisition by Etsy in 2021 that has brought the startup’s shareholders $1.6 billion in total.
The experience of purchasing items online isn’t as joyful as it could be. The startup ConferWith thought just that and created a live video shopping tool to connect consumers with real-life assistants. With such a solution, web visitors can connect to salespersons or brand representatives to discuss their wishes and needs. It will help with their shopping journey, providing support on products and wares and making ecommerce interactions more social.
Modern Milkman is a grocery delivery service that provides fresh produce directly to people’s homes. Founded in 2018, the startup works with local farmers and suppliers, which puts a strong emphasis on ecological awareness. The products are delivered in plastic-free packages, while drinks (milk, juices, etc.) come in glass bottles. The customers are encouraged to return them with their next delivery.
Startups from France
Another undisputed leader of the European startup ecosystem is France. Let’s see what startups it brought to the world stage of innovation.
Qilibri is a monthly subscription service that provides clients with boxes of balanced and dietary food prepared by top chefs and nutritionists. Instead of unrealistic promises of instant weight loss, this startup centers itself around personalized approach and its customers’ satisfaction.
The startup called 4.5.6 Skin is the pioneer in producing, selling, and delivering cosmetic products with an uncompromising focus on melanin-rich skin. It controls the entire chain and distributes its goods directly to customers.
For a long time, melanin-rich skin has been neglected by companies in the beauty industry, even though it has specific dermatologic needs (eg: more layers to the epidermis requires deeper hydration). Currently, skincare products are mostly targeting Caucasian skin and do not cater to the beauty needs of most Black and Asian women.
Vestiaire Collective is a global marketplace for purchasing and reselling luxury, pre-owned fashion products, branded clothing, and accessories. The startup was founded in France in 2009, but now 80% of transactions come from international markets. Before selling, users send the goods to the warehouses of Vestiaire Collective for quality control. The startup has grown considerably thanks to a trend for conscious consumption and recycling.
La Ruche qui dit Oui
La Ruche qui dit Oui is an e-commerce platform where users cooperate by forming into groups to buy goods (fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, meat, etc.) directly from their local farmers. Launched in 2011, this platform has grown up to about 4,000 suppliers and more than 100,000 regular users.
It builds so-called “hives” — distribution points near residential areas where consumers can pick up their orders and meet with manufacturers. Hives are operated by “hive managers”, be it an individual, an association, or business. Farmers determine the selling price of their products and pay a commission of 16.7% as compensation for the platform’s and hive manager’s service.
Videdressing is a collaborative platform dedicated to the purchase and resale of fashion and luxury items. It is very popular with millennials and generation Z. The increased demand for luxury second-hand goods is associated with the general interest towards shared economics and conscious consumption.
Startups from Germany
The number of successful startups around the world is growing, and Germany is no exception. Local projects receive many opportunities for development, as evidenced by ever-increasing amounts of investment in the German startup economy.
Not so long ago, teleshopping was a booming industry. The German startup Livebuy brings it back by providing a live shopping tool for advertisers that enables them to sell video-featured products through their own websites and external marketplaces.
After COVID-19 restrictions on social activities, the new generation of consumers is more inclined towards engaged, human-assisted shopping. That’s why televised sales might kickstart conversion and increase the companies’ revenues.
Berlin Brands Group
Berlin Brands Group is a vertical commerce company that offers sound and light, home and living, and consumer electronic products. It is not your typical ecommerce startup as it has been able to build a large and profitable business mostly with its own funds.
While the Berlin Brands Group is a major ecommerce player in Berlin, it has nothing to do with Rocket Internet — the famed ecommerce incubator based in the German capital.
This startup was founded in 2014 as a corporate enterprise, built by Otto — a delivery giant of the German market and one of the largest online retailers across the globe. Mostly focused on citizens aged 20 to 45, the startup provides them with all kinds of fashion, encompassing 1,500 brands and thousands of clothing items. ABOUT YOU also has a high-tech app that generates 75% of sales.
Sharing economy is a buzzword that refers to more effective use of goods by sharing with others. It’s currently represented by a variety of business models, including this startup.
Berlin-based Grover Group sells electronics by subscription. A person orders a gadget on the website, and gets it delivered in a few days. The money is debited monthly while the client keeps using the device. However, it can be mailed back any time, and payments will stop from this day.
The idea is simple: it’s more sustainable and budget-friendly to rent out electronics instead of purchasing them.
BLVRD is one of the youngest startups in Germany. It aims to find the best result for shoppers, providing them with an online fashion search engine.
Consumers can search for specific outfits and see which store in which city has it. Users receive information about colors, sizes, as well as prices for clothing items. Instead of waiting for an order, you can immediately go to the store and try on clothes without having to search for them.
This Hannover-based startup was founded in 2019 and already has big plans to cover 80% of major cities in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Startups from other European countries
Great Britain, France, and Germany are not the only countries where venture ecosystems are booming. On the contrary, the European market for innovation and technology experiences a strong boost across all borders. Here are some examples of startups that came from other corners of Europe.
Vue Storefront (Poland)
The term “headless” refers to the separation of the frontend and backend of an ecommerce app to allow more developer freedom. It’s a rapidly growing market in ecommerce tech. The backend side has already been covered quite intensively, but the frontend side is still underserved. Vue Storefront is an open source frontend platform that enables ecommerce shops to go headless in a faster and easier way.
This Spanish brand sells natural, vegan, and toxic-free cosmetics. With barely no external financing, Cocunat has seen tremendous growth. From 2019 to 2020, it increased its sales 8x up to 32 million euros, with positive EBITDA of over 2 million euros. This is a young and fresh brand that cares for sustainability since day one.
An infamous Scandinavian unicorn, Klarna is an ecommerce payment solution that provides online merchants with a possibility of staggered payments. Customers of Klarna’s partners can split their payment into three parts, each paid monthly. The first payment is made by consumers, and Klarna covers the rest of the sum. The process is automated and handled as direct debit. Klarna’s solution boosts online sales for partnering businesses and allows consumers to afford expensive purchases, consequently increasing average checks.
Picnic is a new online supermarket that delivers groceries for the lowest price to people’s homes, without delivery costs. Launched in 2015, Picnic created a concept of “modern milkman” (not to be confused with the UK-based startup featured earlier) — a scheduled and precise delivery service using small electric vehicles. The core elements of its disruptive model is sustainability, free home delivery of groceries, and reduction of food waste. The startup has grown to expand across 200+ Dutch, German, and French cities.
Tiqets is a ticketing platform where visitors can find, buy, and use tickets for museums and attractions. It was founded in 2014. It works with thousands of museums and travel agencies around the world. Part of the profit comes from intermediary operations. The platform plans to grow, adding remote attractions and small towns.
In the startup ecosystem, everything is changing at a rapid pace. We have compiled a list of the 25 most interesting startups in Europe, but tomorrow, a brand-new project might emerge from the depths of European cities that would outperform competitors and lead the ecommerce industry.