Frequently asked questions and other information about our services, doing business, living and working in Poland.
Business in Poland
Market Entry Strategy
The Polish market is characterized by wide population dispersion with 25% of Poles living in rural areas and urban dwellers spread among a number of population centers, including Warsaw and Lodz in the center of the country, Krakow in the south, Wroclaw and Poznan in the west, Gdansk and Szczecin in the north, and Lublin in the southeast.
Urban consumers generally have greater purchasing power than their rural counterparts.
Personal contact with the customer is critical and final purchasing decisions typically require a face-to-face meeting. Success in this market typically requires an in-country presence, such as an agent, distributor, or representative office.
While the number of English speakers in Poland is rising, particularly in urban areas, communication in Polish is recommended in order to elicit prompt responses to offers and inquiries and to facilitate negotiations. Poland’s communication network is relatively well developed and email communications and website offerings are an increasingly effective means of reaching local buyers.
Pricing remains the most critical factor in positioning a product or service for sale in Poland. Access to capital is difficult for most Polish firms, and business transactions are typically self-financed. Firms that can arrange financing will have a competitive edge. The effects of the global financial crisis have underlined the need for exporters to develop a creative strategy for financing exports. Using Ex-Im Bank programs is a recommended option. In addition, currency fluctuations may continue in 2015, challenging even the most well-planned export strategy. Careful crafting of terms of sale, including creative packaging of currency and pricing terms, will help the exporter gain a long-term advantage in the current Polish market.
Poland is once again the largest recipient of EU structural and cohesion funds, with €72.9 billion (nearly $100 billion) pledged from 2014-2020.
These funds could create market opportunities for non-polish firms. In particular, Poland intends to use a share of the funds to support continued infrastructure development, environmental protection, and environmental remediation projects. In order to meet EU emissions targets, Poland is attempting to diversify its energy mix by introducing domestically produced shale gas and nuclear energy as well as increasing use of renewable sources of energy, such as wind, biomass and biogas. Other strategies to reduce emissions may include introducing clean coal technologies upgrading coal plants, and exploring waste-to-energy systems. Polish cities will have to develop new waste stream models because EU directives require closure and remediation of landfills across the country.
In this environment, the need for premium office space and the expansion of the retail sector present opportunities for engineering and green-building services, particularly those built as ‘zero emission’ buildings and to LEED standards. Many additional opportunities exist for firms offering products that improve energy efficiency.
Other important sectors are cyber security and software for mobile applications, consumer goods, such as cosmetics, where an non-polish label is still a symbol of prestige and high quality, and automotive products. All of these sectors continue to perform well and show signs of growth.
Although Poland’s per capita GDP is increasing relative to the rest of the EU, it amounts to less than 70% of the EU average. Nonetheless, strong domestic consumption is one of the engines of growth in Poland. Poland has made great strides toward improving the commercial climate, but investors point to an inefficient commercial court system, a rigid labor code, bureaucratic red tape, and a burdensome tax system as challenges for foreign companies.
Poland has made significant progress in reducing bureaucratic obstacles to business. Its ranking in the latest World Bank Ease of Business Index was number 45, down ten spots (lower is better) in the last year which was down 7 from the previous. In the 2013 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Poland improved its rank to 38th out of 177 countries (again lower is better).
Although many infrastructure improvements have been completed or are underway, Poland still has much work to do in order to modernize its road and railway network. Weaknesses in transportation infrastructure increase the cost of doing business for businesses by limiting ready access to all of the markets within Poland and diminishes the country’s current attractiveness as a regional distribution hub. Internet access and connection strength is good in the cities, but still very limited in less populated regions.