Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and, reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 7/19/2016

The Netherlands ranks among the countries with the largest number of broadband connections and the highest Internet penetration in the European Union.  Internet has 94 percent coverage and almost 84 percent of Dutch households use a broadband connection.  With 15.5 million Internet users, the Netherlands has 92.9 percent penetration.

Around 70 percent of Dutch consumers buy products online.  There is a high degree of trust regarding the security of online payments because customers can easily connect with their bank to make safe online payments.

The Electronic Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) mentioned in the direct marketing section above provides rules for online services in the EU.  It requires providers to abide by rules in the country where they are established (country of origin).  Online providers must respect consumer protection rules, such as the inclusion of contact details on their website, clear identification of advertising, and protection against spam.  The Directive also grants exemptions to liability for intermediaries that transmit illegal content by third parties and for unknowingly hosting content.Key Link:  http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/e-commerce/directive_en.htm.

The EU applies Value Added Tax (VAT) to sales by non-EU based companies of Electronically Supplied Services (ESS) to EU-based non-business customers.  U.S. companies that are covered by the rule must collect and submit VAT to EU tax authorities.  European Council Directive 2002/38/EC further developed the EU rules for charging Value Added Tax.  These rules were indefinitely extended following adoption of Directive 2008/8/EC.

Businesses affected by EU Directive 2002/38 are either U.S.-based and selling ESS to non-business EU customers, or are EU-based businesses selling ESS to customers outside the EU.  There are a number of compliance options for businesses.  The Directive creates a special scheme that simplifies registering with each member state.  The Directive allows companies to register with a single VAT authority of their choice.  Companies have to charge different rates of VAT according to where their customers are located, but VAT reports and returns are submitted to just one authority.  The VAT authority responsible for providing the single point of registration service is then responsible for reallocating the collected revenue among the other EU VAT authorities.

When selling electrical or electronic equipment, you must enable your customers to return waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) products free of charge at the end of their life, and inform them about the take-back service offered.

There are different services in terms of time of delivery.  Non-express delivery services usually offer a non-guaranteed delivery time of 2-3 days domestically.  Express delivery services offer a guaranteed delivery by a specific day and time, for which the customers might pay a premium.  Several operators provide same-day delivery domestically and delivery during agreed time slots.  Faster delivery and choice of a specific time slot are increasingly popular with customers.  Customers increasingly expect real-time information during the delivery process. The availability of a track-and-trace capability will enable your customers to check where the parcel is at any time. 

Cost of delivery is an important factor for customers in deciding whether to go ahead with a purchase. Customers expect low cost or even free delivery (and return). They can agree to pay more for delivery only in exchange for extra services like faster or more convenient delivery.

For more, go to the EC website: http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service 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 U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Netherlands eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce