Brexit: What impact will it have on online trade in Germany?

Brexit: What impact will it have on online trade in Germany?
Published on: Jun 20, 2019
Updated: Aug 19, 2022

With a share of 52 percent, the British decided in summer 2016 to leave the European Union. Brexit has happened. But unfortunately, not everything is going as smoothly as hoped.

In the Brexit back-and-forth in Great Britain, no one seems to have an overview any more. However, it is (almost - who knows) certain that the British will leave the European Union. That's why online retailers in this country should already be dealing with the changes that will result from this. Thanks to the European Single Market, trade functions without any restrictions. Unfortunately, the British will probably not be able to benefit from this in the future. And that will be tough, because the UK is the second most popular country for Germans when it comes to online shopping.

What does this mean for online retailing?

What could the worst-case scenario of Brexit mean for online retail? In the event of a so-called disorderly Brexit, the movement of goods between the EU and the UK could change significantly. The transport of goods from or to the UK will no longer work as easily. This will lead to significant price increases. Products from the UK could even become up to 15 percent more expensive. Stricter border controls and customs duties could also lead to delivery times for parcels and goods increasing many times over. But are customers really prepared to put up with these changes?

About 30 per cent of international online shipments currently go through the UK. However, goods with a value of more than 150 euros would be subject to customs tariffs.

BUT: No need to panic! These are all just scenarios that could occur. Freely according to the principle: Everything can - nothing must. Most points are still completely unclear. Nevertheless, online traders should already be aware that changes could soon be coming their way. What are the changes?

  • Currency fluctuations
  • Internal market
  • Trade in goods
  • Customs duties

For many traders, the issue is already becoming too sensitive. That is why some online shops have decided that they want to give up their location in the UK or put it on hold for an indefinite period of time.

Image Marc O'Polo has already drawn consequences from the Brexit. (Source: Marc O'Polo UK)

What do online retailers have to bear in mind?

Nobody knows exactly when the Brexit will finally take place. Nevertheless, online traders should already get smart and familiarise themselves with the associated changes.

In the worst case, the UK will be treated as a third country for customs purposes if there really is no transition period and agreements are made with the EU.

Brexit will then have an impact above all on...

  •  Goods and services supplied to the UK
  •  Goods and services sent from the UK
  •  Goods passing through Great Britain

Online traders should now check in any case whether they are transporting goods to, from or through the UK. If so: online traders must register their business with the national customs authority for third country trade. For certain goods, such as plants or foodstuffs, additional checks could apply.

It is also important that online traders communicate changes in delivery to their customers They should always inform them about delays and longer delivery times. Through proactive shipping messages, retailers can determine what information they communicate to their customers and at what time. The annoyance about the delay of the eagerly awaited package can thus be minimised.

###Inform customers proactively about delays!


First of all, it is important to keep a clear head. How and when the Brexit will ultimately take place is not yet clear. However, online retailers should already be aware of the inevitable changes that will come their way. It is also important that they do not leave their customers out in the cold. They should also proactively inform traders about possible changes and delivery delays.

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