Online shopping in the Netherlands is safe and used by millions of Dutch customers. Find out which internet retailers are most popular with consumers in Holland, which ones offer shopping in English and what charges apply when buying from a foreign web shop…
Products Most Commonly Purchased Online
According to the Dutch national statistics bureau, CBS, the most common items consumers in the Netherlands purchase online are clothing/sporting goods (52%) and trips/accommodations (47%), followed by event tickets (45%) and household goods/appliances (34%). Other popular merchandise categories for purchasing online are books/periodicals (29%), electronics/computers (28%), groceries/cosmetics (26%) and telecom services (23%).
The biggest problem Dutch consumers cite about purchasing online is late delivery (24%).
In 2016, consumers in Holland spent €20.16 billion online, of which €1.0 billion was in EU web shops located outside the Netherlands. The largest number of orders were placed with retailers based in Germany (50%), UK (12%), Belgium (8%) and Italy (8%).
Dutch consumers increased their online spending to €22.5 billion in 2017.
EU Digital Single Market
Digital Single Market, a key initiative of the European Commission to grow total online sales in the EU, focuses on removing obstacles that may be hindering a consumer from purchasing goods in an online shop based in another member state.
Two priorities are:
- Ban retailers from using IP geo-filtering to automatically redirect a consumer to the retailer’s national webshop for that country where the consumer is located. Such action makes it difficult for a consumer to get the best price when a lower one is being offered in another member state.
- Reduce overall shipping costs by banning cross-border surcharges commonly applied by freight companies as the EU commission’s research has determined such surcharges do not correlate to increased costs incurred by the delivery companies.
Most Netherlands Retail Websites Are Not Multi-Lingual
The most common problem faced by expats in the Netherlands when making a online purchase from a local retailer is the language barrier. Few retailers in Holland offer an English-language option on their website. And while many browsers offer translation apps which can help, those tend to only function on non-encrypted pages. Once the checkout process begins, a translation app commonly stops working.
English-speaking consumers often end up buying online from a foreign webshop that is offered in English rather than a Netherlands webshop that is only available in Dutch. This is not the case for the tourism and hospitality sectors, as most of those websites do offer the option to switch to English.
Biggest Dutch Web Shops
In 2019, the ten biggest online retailers in the Netherlands (based on revenue from internet sales transactions) were:
|This web shop sells the entire range of consumer products and services, from perfume and jewelry to sporting goods and tools. BOL recently added an option to view the website in English. They’ve utilized their sister division’s numerous locations by allowing customers to have their orders ship to their nearest Albert Heijn store for collection.|
|Coolblue is wildly popular online retailer of consumer electronics and appliances.|
|#3 ALBERT HEIJN ONLINE|
|The online shop of the Netherlands’ largest supermarket chain. Albert Heijn’s parent company is AHold Delhaize, which happens to own BOL.com as well as the Etos drugstore chain and Gall&Gall liquor store chain.|
|This Germany-based online retailer sells fashion clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children.|
|This Dutch webshop has been one of the biggest in the Netherlands since the inception of online shopping in the mid-1990’s. It sells a full range of consumer products including furniture/bedding, computers/electronics, sporting goods, toys/games, makeup/perfume and jewelry/watches|
|The world’s largest online retailer does not have as strong a foothold in the Netherlands since its Dutch website (amazon.nl) only offers digital books. For all other goods, customers in the Netherlands typically shop the Amazon Germany website (which has an English-language option and offers Amazon Prime memberships to Holland customers).|
|#7 THE LEARNING NETWORK|
|Holland’s largest seller of school books, supplies and learning aids. Students can find new and secondhand books on the site and can resell books when they are done with them.|
|The online shop of Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo makes the top 10 for the first time this year as it takes the number 8 slot. It’s another sign of just how big online food shopping with home delivery has become in the Netherlands.|
|#9 MEDIA MARKT|
|The Dutch website of this German-owned electronics and appliances chain, sells computers, mobile phones, TV’s, home entertainment systems, photography equipment and white goods.|
|The Dutch H&M webshop generates nearly a quarter billion euros in annual revenue making it the 10th largest online retailer in the Netherlands.|
Purchasing from Websites Outside the EU
Expats living in the Netherlands can make online purchases from web shops based outside the European Union (with the exception of certain products that are regulated and not allowed to be imported). But be aware that orders with a total invoiced cost (product cost + tax + shipping cost + any insurance costs) greater than €250, will incur import duty charges.
Find out more about Dutch import duties when purchasing from a non-EU web shop.