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European Ecommerce Overview: Benelux

Benelux is consist of three monarchies: Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Name Benelux is a consolidation of shortage from three member countries. All three countries are doing a good job in the case of the economy. But what about ecommerce? 

In this text, you will find information about e-commerce in all three countries. We will start by covering the situation in Belgium. Let’s dive in.

Ecommerce in Belgium

Overview 

In this country, revenue in ecommerce is projected to reach US$6,260 m by the end of this year. There are over 7 million users, and user penetration stands at the level of 64.8%. But in four years it is predicted to hit 70%. 

The most popular segment in Belgium ecommerce is Fashion – it covers 33% of revenue. It is followed by Electronics & Media with 23%. The third-place belongs to Toys, Hobby & DIY with 19%, then Furniture & Appliances – 16% and last but not the least – Food & Personal Care with 9% of revenue.

The most popular ecommerce are bol.com, coolblue.b, and Zalando. What is quite interesting – Belgium customers are forced to do shopping from French Amazon’s site. The retailer hasn’t decided to cover the Belgium market yet. 

source: https://ecommercedb.com/en/markets/be/all

Consumers behavior 

Belgians appreciate the comfort of shopping and the price. Belgian consumers appreciate the ability to shop 24/7 and saving time thanks to online shipping. They also love to compare prices. That is why if you want to win Belgians hearts, your ecommerce needs to have reasonable and clear pricing, and all included costs as shipping, etc., and delivery – as fast as possible. 

When it comes to cross-border shopping – 1 of the 4 Belgium consumers do shopping from abroad more than four times within a year. It is quite impressive. Belgium is ranked as one of the easiest countries to deliver to. And Belgians use these facts. Their favorite countries to shop from are the Netherlands, Germany, and France. 

Payment methods 

Belgians like to pay by cards. But it is forecasted that mobile payments will gain more fans over the years. Cards stand by half of the ecommerce transaction. 

source: https://www.jpmorgan.com/merchant-services/insights/reports/belgium

There is also a Bancontact, domestic card payment way that is co-branded with Maestro. It may be a key factor for card popularity. There are three main players in this country’s card providers market – Visa, Mastercard, and Maestro (Bancontact).  

Social media 

There are over 10 million people online in Belgium. They spend there around 5 hours per day. So no surprises they do online shopping quite often.

source: https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2020-belgium

Which social media are the most popular in this country? Facebook, YouTube, and Messenger as a way of communication. So it is important to be present at least in the first one if you want to be successful in Belgium. 

Logistics

There are three main providers in Belgium when it comes to delivery service. Bpost, UPS, and DHL. There are no big differences in the percentage of covered parcels. Bpost is chosen by 36% of Belgians, UPS – 20%, and DHL- 19%. 

Belgium is located in the center of Europe, so objectively looking at many places, you can get to quite quickly. It has a well-developed land, and sea transport network – the port of Antwerp plays a big role here.

Ecommerce in the Netherlands

Overview 

Ecommerce in the Netherlands is predicted to reach US$17,718m by the end of 2020. The annual growth rate here is standing at a level of 5.8%. There are over 13 million users. User penetration is predicted to hit 83.2% by 2024.

The most significant segment here is Fashion here – this sector generates 34% of revenue. Electronics & Media is the second one with 22%. Then Toys, Hobby & DIY – 19%, Furniture & Appliances with 15%. The last one, Food & Personal Care generates 10%.

source: https://ecommercedb.com/en/markets/nl/all

The most popular ecommerce in the Netherlands are bol.com, coolblue.nl, and wehkamp.nl.

Consumers behavior

The Netherlands is a consumer society. Price and quality are the main purchasing factors. The Dutch are willing to pay more for better quality. Online stores are becoming more and more popular, although food shopping remains the domain of supermarkets and brick-and-mortar small retailers. Despite the consumptive nature of society, consumption in the Netherlands is falling from year to year. 

The Dutch invest equally in domestic and foreign products. In terms of loyalty – these consumers prefer to buy products they already know from brands they have already dealt with.

Ecology is more and more important for the Dutch. The consumption of meat and animal products is falling, while the consumption of vegetables and fruit is increasing. The Dutch also began to pay attention to the origin of the products. This country is the seventh-largest organic market in the European Union.

Payment methods

According to the JP Morgan report, the Dutch prefer to pay via bank transfer.

source: https://www.jpmorgan.com/merchant-services/insights/reports/netherlands

It is one of the few societies to which the cards did not become widespread. This is most likely due to the nature of society – the Dutch do not accept debts. Another factor that could have influenced the popularity of bank transfers is iDEAL. It is a Dutch bank transfer payment system. It is this system that dominates all payments. When entering the Dutch ecommerce market, you should very seriously consider introducing payments via iDEAL.

Social media

There are over 14 million Dutch people online but comparing to Belgians; they spend less time there – around 2 hours. The Dutch like to be in touch; that is why WhatsApp is the most popular social media platform. Then come YouTube and Facebook.  

source: https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2020-the-netherlands?rq=netherlands

Facebook Ads can reach over 8 million people, so if you are interested in the Dutch ecommerce market, you should probably consider FB Ads. 

Logistics

The logistics centers in the Netherlands are spread across the country. Most of them are at the seaside, for logical reasons – waterway transport handles significant amounts of goods. What is more, the seaport in Rotterdam is the biggest one in Europe. 

source: http://bciglobal.com/en/your-guide-to-the-top-100-logistics-service-providers-2019-in-the-netherlands

PostNL covers almost half of the market when it comes to delivery providers, then comes DHL with 32% and UPS – 17%.

Ecommerce in Luxembourg 

Overview

In 2019 ecommerce revenue stood at the level of €869 million. When it comes to internet penetration, it is one of Europe’s highest ratios – 97%. It is 1,5% growth comparing to the previous year. 

source: https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2020-luxembourg?rq=luxembourg

The top ecommerce here are wehkamp.nl, bol.com, and Zalando. Luxembourg has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates – over 70%. Despite this, the population of Luxembourg still prefer to shop through desktops and laptops. The same is with making payment transactions.

source: https://www.webinterpret.com/us/sell-online/luxembourg/

The most significant sector here is Fashion, then Books and Magazines and Events tickets. 

Consumers behavior

Consumers in this country attach great importance to the quality of the product, and it is this fact that is the decisive factor in purchasing most products. The brand and its reputation are also quite important. 

Luxembourgers, however, are prone to price cuts and promotions for everyday products. So if you operate in this market, feel free to organize some promotions on an excellent start.  Consumers in this country have not shown such optimism as other European countries when it comes to ecomemrce. Despite this fact, the government decided to start a nationwide ecomemrce platform to encourage consumers to shop online.

Payments methods

The most common method is bank transfer. Digicash is a popular domestic app-based bank transfer option – it covers 20%. However, it is assumed that credit cards will be gaining in popularity. In this country, there are 3.05 cards per capita. In Luxembourg, debit cards are not as popular as in other Western European countries – 1.3 cards per capita. 

source: https://www.jpmorgan.com/merchant-services/insights/reports/luxembourg

Digital wallets have potential, although so far, it is not a very popular solution. PayPal is the most frequently chosen method of additional payments – it covers 10% of such payments. What is quite interesting, only 6% of Luxembourg prefer to pay in cash. 

Social media

One of the most effective channels to reach customers is Facebook. 

source: https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2020-luxembourg?rq=luxembourg

Thanks to FB Ads, you can reach over 300 thousand users. What is quite interesting the gender distribution here is – 50/50.

When it comes to Instagram – it has a much smaller potential than Facebook. By advertising via Instagram, you can reach 130 thousand people. It means that 35% of the population at the age of over 13 can see your Instagram ads. 

Logistics

In recent years, Luxembourg has continued to improve its logistics offer (3PL and 4PL). Moreover, the country has implemented the specialization of many products in this sector. Logistics in Luxembourg focuses on dividing products into specific categories that require a particular handling or storage method. It was quite a big innovation to enrich the logistics sector for the health products center. 

As you can see, logistics in this country is concentrated in the south part of the country. Luxembourg is perfectly connected with Belgium, France, and Germany by sea, land, and air.

To sum up

The Benelux countries are good markets for ecommerce development. They have potential that is worth using. Although they show some similarities, there are also some differences that are worth knowing to diversify your strategy to enter individual markets. 

We hope that we have helped you understand how ecommerce works in each Benelux country. If you want to know more about other countries, you can read similar texts, e.g., about Austria or France.