Belgium borders France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany. The Belgian government and the European Union are both seated in the capital, Brussels. The country is 11,787 square miles, and is densely populated with 11.2 million people. As in the entire Benelux region, the euro is the primary currency. Belgium is a federal monarchy and federal parliamentary democracy.
StatisticsCapital: Brussels Population: 11.2 million
GDP (USD): 434.503 billion (est. 2014)
Currency: Euro (EUR/€)
Languages: Dutch (Flemish),French
Popular E-Commerce Sites
Data specific to Belgium is not available; however, Marketing facts lists the region’s top e-commerce companies as
- RFS Holland Holding
- BAS Group
- Ticketmaster Nederland
Belgium also has a branch association called be-commerce.be. 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).
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.
- 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 TrendsIn 2014, all trends indicated growth compared with 2013 and the years before: the amount of online spending (+31.7 percent), the number of buyers and orders (+2 percent), and revenue (+10 percent). Marketingfacts reports that these numbers are expected to continue to increase.
In Belgium and the Netherlands, consumers reported that the eight top products they bought online in 2012 were 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), and home furnishings (9 percent) (PostNord 2014).
Social MediaFacebook, 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 of age. Facebook usage decreases in this group (Oosterveer 2015).
Online PaymentiDEAL 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-CommerceData specific to Belgium is not available; regionally, however, 13 percent of the total
in the neighboring Netherlands were via m-commerce. Of USD 1.7 billion 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).purchases made Ecommerce
Promotions and DiscountsUsing a variety of promotions and discounts is successful. The most common and successful option is the promotional code. Also, weekly deals and daily deals appear to be very effective. Free shipping and free returns are good services to provide to attract potential customers. Furthermore, offering an app for consumers’ smartphones or handheld devices that offers them extra discounts has helped to attract customers (Retail News 2015).
Major Buying Holidays
- Valentine’s Day (February 14)
- of May; Antwerp, August 15)(second Sunday Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day (second Sunday of June; Antwerp, March 19)
- Sint-Maarten (November 11)
- Sinterklaas (December 6)
- 25 and 26)Christmas (December)
Although data specific to Belgium is lacking, regionally, some 2.8 million Dutch (20 percent) purchased goods from a foreign website in 2014; total cross-border spending was USD 519 billion (E-commerce News 2014a). The United States ranks fourth when it comes to cross-border spending in the Netherlands.
ChallengesThe largest websites are not in English. However, addressing a target audience through advertising in English is possible in some ways. As the Kissmetrics blog reports,
Countries like Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands score well on the ability to speak English. That’s why many American e-commerce businesses decide to target these countries in English. However, it’s also important to take national pride into consideration here, meaning that even Norwegian, Danish, and Dutch customers appreciate if you target them in their own language, resulting in better success rates.
However, even if you decide to go for a local language, you should be careful.
Both the Dutch and close to half of the Belgians (the Flemish) speak Dutch as a native language. But just like American English is different from British English, Dutch in the Netherlands differs from Dutch in Belgium. And, both the Dutch and the Flemish prefer to be addressed in their own language.
In general terms, you should aim for local languages as much as possible. (Welink 2014)
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.
Belgium eCommerce Industry eCommerce