A summary of eCommerce related information relating to The Netherlands. This information is from "Preparing Your Business for Global eCommerce" prepared by the U.S. Commercial Service for exporters.
Last Published: 7/17/2016
The Netherlands is situated between Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The capital of the country is Amsterdam. The Netherlands is 16,039 square miles (approximately the size of Maryland); 18 percent of that area is water, necessitating the Netherlands’ famous dikes and windmills. The Netherlands is the fifth-most competitive economy in the world (World Economic Forum 2015). The Netherlands has a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.

Capital: Amsterdam
Population: 17 million
GDP(USD): 749.365 billion (porj.2015)
Currency: Euro
Language: Dutch(Flemish),French

Market Entry
Popular E-Commerce Sites
Marketingfacts lists the top e-commerce companies in the region  as for Global E-Commerce
  • Ahold
  •  RFS Holland Holding
  •  Coolblue
  •  thuisbezorgd.nl
  •  BAS Group
  •  KPN
  •  H&M
  •  Ticketmaster Nederland
The seven most-used web stores, according to E-commerce News (2014b), are
  •  wehkamp.nl
  •  bol.com
  •  Zalando
  •  Coolblue
  •  H&M
  •  HEMA
  •  thuisbezorgd.nl

Only Zalando and H&M are foreign companies. Most e-commerce websites in the Netherlands are focused on fashion and living. Thuisbezorgd.nl is the Dutch version of GrubHub or Eat24 and is the largest platform for ordering food   online.

Besides this, the Netherlands also has a branch association called thuiswinkel.org. It has a quality mark for affiliated organizations, and it provides assistance and information for companies and customers. The quality marks are used to gain customers’  trust.

More foreign companies are active in Belgium than in the Netherlands, because many Belgian retailers were relatively late to use e-commerce. German, French, and Dutch companies are the most important players for e-commerce in Belgium. Therefore, the Belgium market is more open to foreign companies than the Dutch. Both countries are strong in services such as warehousing and infrastructure (AT Kearney 2015).
Digital Advertising
Online advertising is outpacing published advertising. Online adverting can be seen everywhere. Most businesses use cookies for direct advertising and product placement on other websites; these ads appear on social media, search engines, web stores, and news websites.

The term programmatic media (also known as programmatic marketing or programmatic advertising) encompasses an array of technologies that automate the buying, placement, and optimization of media inventory, replacing human-based methods. In this process, supply and demand partners use automated systems and business rules to place advertisements in electronically targeted media  inventory.

Programmatic advertising adoption in the Netherlands is high—the highest in Europe,   in fact—and most publishers view it as an essential part of their marketing strategy. In a February 2014 study conducted by FaR for Improve Digital, 89 percent of publishers   said
they were selling between 51 percent and 100 percent of their inventory programmatically (eMarketer 2014).

Online advertising sales volume adds up to USD 1.7 billion in the Netherlands,   where
Fulfillment Centers
  •  Holland International Distribution Council,  ndl.nl
  •  S&H Multi-channel Fulfilment,  bit.ly/1QMrMt5
  •  MCS Fulfilment, bit.ly/1JfbuSY
  •  bol.com, bit.ly/1KmxQUC
Current Market Trends
In 2014, all trends indicated growth compared with 2013 and the years before: the amount of online spending (+31.7 percent), the amount of buyers and orders (+2 percent), and revenue (+10 percent). Marketing facts reports that these numbers are expected to  continue to increase.

According to E-commerce News (2014b), the most popular product categories in Dutch e-commerce are
  •  Travel services and tickets: 39  percent
  •  Telecommunications: 12.8 percent
  • Consumer electronics: 7.8 percent
  •  Computer hardware and software: 7.6 percent
  •  Apparel and shoes: 7.5 percent
  •  Media: 6.4 percent
In 2014, Financieele Dagblad rrepporrtedd total spending on travel was USD 5.1 billion; on telecom, USD 1.9 billion; and on apparel, USD 1.1  million.

Fashion and telecom show the largest increase (Oosterveer 2014). A December 2014 report by van Nuenen identified several trends in the  Netherlands:
  •  More m-commerce: the delivery of e-commerce capabilities directly into the consumer’s hand, anywhere, via wireless  technology
  •  A web store combined with a physical store to return goods or to ask questions in case of problems
  •  Individualized services: customer contact, personal  discounts
  •  Internationalization, with consumers buying their products overseas and Dutch companies focusing more abroad as well
The amount of total online spending in 2014 was EUR 7.2 billion, with 67.301 million purchases. The increase in spending on products was 15.1 percent, and the increase in spending on services was 2.4 percent, averaging a total of 8.4 percent (PostNord    2014).

In Belgium and the Netherlands, consumers reported that the eight top products they bought online in 2012 were
  • 196 Preparing Your Business for Global E-Commerce
  •  Clothing and footwear: 38 percent
  •  Home electronics: 28 percent
  •  Books: 23 percent
  •  Cosmetics: 13 percent
  •  CDs: 13 percent
  •  Films and DVDs: 12 percent
  •  Children's’ articles: 11 percent
  •  Home furnishings: 9 percent
Social Media
Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter are among the most popular social media sites. Pinterest and Instagram are gaining popularity, especially for users between 15 and 39 years oof aage. Facebook usage decreases in this group (Oosterveer   2015).
  •  Facebook: 9.4 million users (6.6 million daily)
  • YouTube: 6.8 million users (1.2 million daily)
  • Google+: 3.9 million users (1.3 million daily)
  • LinkedIn: 3.8 million users (400,000 daily)
  •  Twitter: 2.8 million users (1 million  daily))
  •  Instagram: 1.8 million users (722,000 daily)
  •  Pinterest: 1.6 million users (261,000 daily)
  •  Snapchat: 800,000 users (320,000 daily)
Online Payment
iDEAL is the most common way to pay. This payment method allows customers to buy products on the Internet using direct online transfers from their bank  account.

Credit cards, payment slips, and authorizations are the next most popular payment mechanisms. Remittances, PayPal, gift vouchers, PIN-debit transactions, cash, and others close the list (Marketingfacts n.d.).
Mobile E-Commerce
Thirteen percent of the total e-commerce purchases made in the Netherlands were  via
commerce. Of the USD 1.7 billion in total spending on e-commerce during the last half of 2013, about USD 976 million was m-commerce. Of the transactions, 30 percent were conducted on smartphones (USD 270 million) and 70 percent were on tablets (USD 706 million). The number of people purchasing goods on their mobile devices increases every year (Thuiswinkel.org 2013).

Promotions and Discounts
Use a variety of promotions and discounts. Discount codes are the most common and successful option; weekly and daily deals also appear to be very effective. Free shipping and free returns can attract potential customers. Further, offering a smartphone app that offers them an extra discount has been shown to attract customers (Retail News   2015).

Current Demand
Major Buying Holidays
  • Valentine’s Day (February 14)
  • Carnaval (February/March)—costumes
  •  King’s Day (April 27)—Orange/Dutch goods
  •  Mother’s Day (second Sunday of May)
  •  Father’s Day (third Sunday of  June)
  •  Halloween (October 31)—gaining popularity, but is not as popular as in the United States
  •  Sinterklaas (December 5)—Equivalent to Christmas sales
  •  Christmas (December 25 and 26)

Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

More Information

Netherlands eCommerce Industry eCommerce