E-commerce in Belgium
The local e-commerce market has matured as a result of the pandemic.
Belgian market has lagged behind the rest of Western Europe. Previous regulations regarding night work have entailed logistics problems in the country. In addition, the country has a fragmented consumer base due to its multilingual population, which has made it easier for foreign market participants to establish themselves.
The e-commerce market in Belgium is still dominated by foreign market participants, but the pandemic has helped to boost local e-commerce in the country. Currently, 87% of the Belgian population state they have shopped online.
Belgium’s division into French-speaking Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders has further contributed to the fragmentation of local e-commerce. Dutch-speaking consumers prefer to use Dutch online stores, which has made it more difficult for Belgian online stores to compete on the market, as they are more exposed to foreign competition.
Impact of the coronavirus pandemic
The pandemic has given the domestic e-commerce market a major boost. As closed borders created uncertainty in cross-border trade, more and more consumers started to shop online domestically. Belgium is one of the countries in Europe most affected by the pandemic. With physical stores closed, more and more companies were forced online. More than 20,000 new e-commerce stores opened in Belgium in 2020, representing 42% of all e-commerce stores in the country.
Although the domestic e-commerce market is maturing more and more in Belgium, foreign e-commerce players still account for the majority of e-commerce in the country. The top five online stores are all foreign; the largest are Dutch Bol.com and Coolblue. Amazon does not have a Belgian website, but the French and German sites are popular with Belgians. On the fashion side, German Zalando is one of the biggest market participants in Belgium.
Source: E-commerce in Europe 2021