Did you know that Poland is the 26th largest market for e-commerce globally, with a revenue of US$13,617.0 million (by 2023), placing it ahead of Austria? Who knew that the country of Chopin, Pope John Paul II, and Copernicus would become the 21st century’s e-commerce hub between East and West!

According to the Polish Statistics Office, 93.3 percent of all households had internet access in 2022, which increased to 97% by the end of 2023. Approximately 77 percent of Polish internet users shop online, which is still below the EU average of over 90 percent. The most active buyers reside in large cities or villages and are 29-49 years old. Poland became an EU member state in 2004. Its current population exceeds 38 million, making Poland the 4th most populated nation in the EU. The Polish government recognized the need for up-to-date online and offline infrastructure and technology early. At the same time, major investments in roads and rail have had a very positive impact on supply chains and costs.

Circular economy on the horizon

According to the European Commission’s Strategy for a Sustainable Textile Sector, the clothing and footwear industry in the EU needs to become more environmentally friendly by 2030. This strategy will be hugely important for fashion retail e-commerce in Poland and all of Europe. The plan reflects the EU executive’s efforts to advance the bloc’s so-called circular economy and promote consumer goods that are more sustainable, longer-lasting, and easier to repair and recycle.

Clothing comprises 81% of EU textile consumption. The EU Commission said trends of using garments for shorter periods before throwing them away was contributing to “unsustainable patterns of overproduction and overconsumption”.

The trend, which is known as fast fashion has been “enticing consumers to keep on buying clothing of inferior quality and lower price, produced rapidly in response to the latest trends”, said EU commissioner responsible for the environment, Frans Timmermans. “It’s time to end the model of ‘take, make, break, and throw away’ that is so harmful to our planet, our health, and our economy”, Timmermans added.

In the Polish fashion retail market, the online share is 48.2% and is expected to increase by an average of 7.8% to 65.0% by 2027. This is where visionary minds can make a difference going forward. A great example of such a mind is Martyna Zastawna, the founder of one Polish online platform definitely ready for 2027.

The right idea going forward

“I started all this because I didn’t want to throw out a favorite pair of shoes and couldn’t find anywhere that would repair and clean them for me”, says Martyna Zastawna, the founder and owner of Woshwosh, the world’s first shoe cleaning, restoration, repair, and customization company. “I looked in Warsaw, then in Poland, then across Europe, but nothing like it seemed to exist.”

Woshwosh, which now employs 30 people in the Polish capital Warsaw, has been operating on the market since 2015. Since its inception, the company has renewed over half a million pairs of shoes. A perfect example of what a circular economy should look like. Zastawna started Woshwosh as a 24-year old. She had just graduated from university and lived in a small apartment in the eastern Warsaw district of Goclaw. “It was just me and my dog at the start”, she says. “But very quickly we had 500 pairs of shoes to handle, and I had to rent a place to do it and find someone to help.”

Winds of change

“The mood seemed to change in Poland in 2019, actually way before the pandemic. We here at Woshwosh caught the wave of environmentally friendly consumerism”, she smiles.
Zastawna’s sustainability efforts also benefit Poland’s tens of thousands of homeless and refugees. Just a few years after founding her firm, she organized a shoe collection drive in an effort to make a difference. Since then, Woshwosh has collected and donated more than 180,000 pairs of shoes to those in need.

Poland has seen a huge rise in fashion retail e-commerce due to the pandemic, and most of those shops and platforms have persevered. As in many former Eastern Bloc countries, second hand platforms like Vinted have claimed a large slice of the fashion retail e-commerce cake for themselves. Many of the smaller online retailers would welcome foreign investors, partnerships, and new additions to their product lines, but lack the ability and knowhow to handle increased traffic. Most Polish online shops lack internationalization, product texts are less than professionally set up, and their order processes are lacking finesse.

The customers in Poland’s fashion retail e-commerce expect free deliveries for the most part, easy payment options (with cash on delivery being the most favorite payment option). Due to the continued investment in infrastructure in Poland, and the land border shared with Germany, there is no lack of national and international logistics partners.

Bottom line

Poland is in many respects the most up and coming country for fashion retail e-commerce in the EU. The circular economy model is being pioneered successfully here, and foreign investors and existing international fashion retail e-commerce platforms would do well to jump on the accelerating bandwagon. European and international online retailers interested in entering the Polish market would be well advised to move some of their experts to Poland to help get productivity off the ground and offer technology support.

The 25th eCommerce Warsaw Expo (11. April 2024) – the most important date for online retailers hoping to start or already conducting e-commerce and specifically fashion retail e-commerce in Poland – will be a great starting point for those interested in tapping into this very interesting market.



autor_eurotext_100Author: Eurotext Editorial Team

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