France: e-commerce at the heart of Europe

The third-largest country, the third-largest e-commerce and parcel market: France has a unique place in the history of Europe and, as a founding member, played a leading role in the establishment of the EU. The French are also very European when it comes to online shopping, with GLS France developing new solutions to cater for the thriving e-commerce sector. 

Shoes from Italy or a drill machine from Germany? No problem. All goods are just a click away, with e-commerce transcending borders. And hardly any other country seizes these opportunities like the French, who buy and sell across Europe.


French online shops dispatch their goods chiefly to their neighbours in Belgium, but also to recipients in Germany and the United Kingdom. French shoppers, on the other hand, often order from Belgium, Italy and Germany*. A true European spirit!

Parcels beyond borders


Thanks to the strong European network of GLS, GLS France also enjoys strong connections with its neighbouring countries. “We mainly handle parcels to and from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands”, explains Group Area Managing Director Klaus Schädle, who is responsible for the national subsidiaries in France, Italy, Austria and Ireland.


For this, good cross-border line haul planning plays a key role. At GLS France, an experienced team takes care of preparations, analysing large volumes of data every day to ensure seamless parcel movements at national and European level.

Award-winning solution


GLS France has geared itself towards the growing e-commerce sector and the needs of senders and private recipients, launching the Web app “GLS Route” last year. This app simplifies communication between delivery drivers and recipients, with the delivery driver receiving all delivery information on their smartphone.


With a single tap on the screen, delivery drivers can call the recipient or send them a text message informing them of the arrival of their parcel. GLS France was rewarded for this innovation with the “Trophées e-Commerce” logistics innovation prize. “We are immensely proud of this award, especially as our employees put so much hard work into developing the app”, says Klaus Schädle.


Green urban delivery


Since April 2019, GLS France has also been testing a new premium service for recipients. In some southern districts of Paris, they can choose evening delivery up to 10 p.m. at short notice on the planned day of delivery. In cooperation with the start-up company Tousfacteurs the parcel is then delivered in an eco-friendly way by bike.


“This way, recipients can tailor delivery even more closely to their needs, which results in a higher first-time delivery rate”, explains Klaus Schädle. “At the same time, we are tackling the growing challenges of urban logistics, bypassing traffic jams and helping to reduce carbon emissions.”



* wik CONSULT: Development of Cross-border E-commerce through Parcel Delivery; 2019, Study on behalf of the EU Commission (

E-commerce is flourishing cross-border and also within France. Together with the UK and Germany, France accounts for two thirds of total e-commerce revenue in Europe*. According to the French e-commerce federation Fevad, the French spent 92.6 billion euros in 2018 – a year-on-year increase of 20.5 per cent in purchases. And the growth trend remains undimmed, with the 100 billion euro mark set to be broken in 2019.

GLS France


  • The predecessor of GLS France, Boy Courses, was founded in 1979 in Toulouse before being renamed “Extand” in 1993.
  • The company is operating as GLS France since 2003.
  • Every day, some 400 line hauls connect 11 hubs and 83 depots.
  • Private recipients can send and collect parcels at about 6,000 Mondial Relay ParcelShops.
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