What do Esperanto, the bulletproof vest and the first modern oil refinery have in common? Their inventors all hail from Poland. It is a country with a tradition of diversity and innovation. Since the 1990s, the long-established but newly re-formed republic has also developed into an economic heavyweight in Europe.
Poland: hidden champion in the heart of Europe
Poland has a turbulent history. Together with Lithuania, the country was considered the most powerful state in Europe from around the mid-17th century to the end of the 18th century, with the first modern constitution dating back to 1791. Thereafter, Poland repeatedly lost its independence. In 1989, the provisions relating to the alliance with the Soviet Union were finally removed from the constitution and the former name of “Rzeczpospolita Polska” (Republic of Poland) was reinstated. Since then, the Polish economy has been on a steep upward curve: in the early nineties, the gross domestic product was around 250 billion US dollars – by 2019 it was approximately 1.3 trillion.
Poland and GLS – made for one another
The Polish subsidiary plays an important role within the GLS Group. GLS acquired a stake in the Polish CEP company Szybka Paczka in 2001. In 2004 – the year Poland joined the EU – Szybka Paczka changed its name to GLS Poland. In 2005, GLS bought the remaining 75 per cent of the shares.
From the beginning, it was clear that the Polish CEP market was characterised by demanding customers. CEP service providers had to meet their requirements in order to survive on the market in the long term. To increase delivery success and customer satisfaction, GLS Poland, for example, arranged for the delivery drivers to phone the recipients on the day of delivery as standard at an early stage.
With the quick growth in online retail, the trend towards convenient delivery increased. In 2011, Poland was already the fifth-largest e-commerce market in Europe, at approx. 7 billion PLN (almost 1.7 billion euros), even though at that time only 23 per cent of residents shopped online. Since then, the market has seen double-digit growth, with an estimated value of around 11 billion euros and an online-shopper ratio of 61per cent of the population in 2019. Polish companies are increasingly selling goods online, both domestically and internationally. New growth markets are above all the younger EU member states in Europe.
Tailored service concepts
GLS Poland developed together with the market: with more and increasingly efficient depots, more delivery vehicles and innovative services. As of 2012, recipients were informed by text message when their parcel was delivered to a ParcelShop as an alternative to their address. Since 2013, they can actively choose delivery to a ParcelShop with the ShopDeliveryService. In the same year, the Mobile App made parcel tracking and searching for a ParcelShop via smartphone possible. In spring 2014, GLS Poland introduced the FlexDeliveryService, with the international version, which connects 22 European countries, coming only six months later.
In 2018, the infoCourierService was launched exclusively in Poland: on the day of delivery, recipients receive an SMS informing them about the delivery, the contact details of the driver and, if applicable, the cash-on-delivery (COD) amount. With this service, GLS Poland has been ensuring secure, contactless delivery since April 2020: the consignee receives a PIN code that replaces their signature when the package is handed over. For the COD option, which is very popular in Poland, GLS Poland has been offering cashless and contactless payment via BLIK in view of the Corona pandemic since May 2020.
Innovation brings success: GLS Poland, like the country itself, is a “hidden champion”. The company has been recognised as a “Customer-Friendly Company” by the independent Digital Knowledge Observatory Foundation every year since 2009.
Poland’s economy: strong and multifaceted
Since joining the EU in 2004, Poland has been very popular among international corporations and investors. Today, the country is one of the main assembly sites of international electrical equipment manufacturers and suppliers to automotive companies. Numerous companies have established research and development centres there, including ABB and Intel. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft announced an investment worth billions in a new cloud computing and data centre. In the service sector, Poland is a particularly popular choice for accounting and customer service locations. At the same time, the country is the largest apple producer in Europe.
Land of ancient forests
Poland’s diversity is not limited to economic attractions. 23 national parks offer ideal habitats for rare species such as bison, lynx and beavers. Białowieża National Park is considered to be the last primeval forest in Europe. Poland also has the second-highest density of lakes on the continent. In addition to the approximately 530 km long Baltic Sea coast, with numerous beaches, and the lake district of Masuria in the north, the south of the country is also attractive for mountain lovers thanks to the Pieprzowe Mountains, High Tatras, and the Opawskie Mountains on the border with the Czech Republic.