Servicing the Blue Banana from a Small Dutch Village, Part 1
Back in 1989 a group of French geographers known as RECLUS developed a geographical concept of an area stretching from North West England over The Netherlands, Belgium, Southern Germany, a very small part of Northern France and Switzerland up to Northern Italy. They called it banane bleue: the Blue Banana.
This series of continuous urban areas, covering large cities and capitals, dates from as far back as the 11th Century. Today, it covers over 85 million European citizens and can be considered the European center for economic and innovative growth.
Small Scope, Big Business
For e-commerce companies who want to expand their business from the Americas or the Asia Pacific region towards Europe, this area’s economic engine is a great starting point. One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen, however, is companies aiming for the entire continent when they take the plunge. A European expansion of that scale comes with many difficulties in coping with multiple languages, legislations, customs regulations and so on.
In practice, 70% of sales are achieved not from taking on the entire continent, but from within Europe’s most prosperous countries: the ones that make up the Blue Banana. To maximize on that 70%, ModusLink – as well as many other companies – made the Blue Banana our European business center. In fact, we placed our warehouse in a very convenient, central part of it, in the city of Venray (approximately 30,000 inhabitants) – the best spot to outsource your supply chain.
Strategic Location Perks
So why is this such a great spot? First of all, the Dutch infrastructure is first class. Venray is accessible to both top-ranked seaports and the world-class airport Schiphol, in less than a two hour drive. Belgium is less than an hour away and crossing the German border takes only around 30 minutes. Even the Swiss capital Bern is less than a workday away. Secondly, The Netherlands ranked number 4 in the world on the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) for overall logistical performance last year, with great overall scores on customs, infrastructure, international shipments, logistics competence, tracking & tracing, and timeliness.
Another perk is the country’s multilingualism and its potential for outsourcing your customer service. After all, easy business starts with easy communication. The Dutch are not only proficient in their own language: 90% of the inhabitants speak English, 71% speak German and another 29% speak French. The country ranked number 1 on the EF English Proficiency Index. By arranging a sufficient Solution Center capable of servicing your customers in their mother tongue, or occasionally their second language, you have the entire Blue Banana covered.
Follow the Leader
Some of the world’s most well-known brands have already discovered the perks of working from the Blue Banana. Will your company be next to reach 160 million European customers within a days’ time? Make sure to read my next blog in which I will tell you more about the services that make Venray a great place to start your expansion journey.
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