“Distance selling” or e-commerce grew by 18% in Europe in 2015, reaching a volume of 550 billion euros.

The EU is determined to promote this trade and is working hard to remove the obstacles in its way, by among other things streamlining the European Customs and VAT legislation.

But already there are plenty of opportunities for logistics service providers to benefit from the e-commerce trend.

The current Customs risks for e-commerce

Many items sold on the internet don’t have to be declared, because of their low value. This means they also escape various other restrictions, such as those on:

  • Counterfeiting
  • Compliance with EU health & safety requirements
  • Protected plant and animal species
  • Components that could be used for terrorist attacks
  • Weapons, drugs etc.

Strategic advantages of bonded warehouses

Bonded warehouses fall under the supervision of the Customs authorities and so are subject to inspection. A side effect of this is that it eliminates the HSEE (Health, Safety, Environmental and Economic) risk.

But a bonded warehouse also offers various other possibilities for logistics service providers to create added value for e-commerce. These include:

  • Creating a strategic stock without the merchandise having to be put on the market and/or re-exported to a non-EU country
  • Simplified stock-in and stock-out procedures
  • Re-sale of returns (goods that have been refused or that could not be delivered), with the Customs declaration being cancelled after the initial sale (the goods go back into bond after a period of 90 days)
  • Using the warehouse as a showroom

Customs and technical advantages

Customs advantages:

  • No complex return procedures or loss of import duties and VAT on returned goods
  • Simplified procedures: bonding and aggregated declarations
  • HSEE checks when goods enter the warehouse

Commercial advantages:

  • Faster delivery
  • No returns to shippers in non-EU countries
  • Re-sale of returns