Online shopping in the Netherlands is safe and used regularly by millions of Dutch consumers. Find out which are the largest webshops in Holland, those that offer shopping in English, the EU single market for cross-border purchases and what charges apply when buying from a non-EU online retailer…
PRODUCTS COMMONLY BOUGHT ONLINE IN NETHERLANDS
According to the Dutch national statistics bureau, 52% of online shoppers have made purchases that included clothing/sporting goods, making it the most popular category for internet transactions. Other big product/service categories include trips/accommodations (47%), event tickets (45%), household goods/appliances (34%), books/periodicals (29%), electronics/computers (28%), groceries/cosmetics (26%) and telecom services (23%).
The single biggest problem Dutch consumers have cited regarding online purchases is late delivery (24%).
Online sales continue to grow significantly in the Netherlands; in 2016, consumers spent €20.16 billion online, which increased to €25.8 billion in 2019. Of this amount, €3.5 billion was spent in EU webshops based outside the Netherlands including those in Germany (50%), UK (12%), Belgium (8%) and Italy (8%).
Nowadays, most Dutch webshops display a trustmark logo which communicate that shoppers on the site are offered specific protections and guarantees, such as automatic 14-day reflection period, that the retailer’s terms and conditions are clear and easily accessible on the site, that the ordering process follows a logical order and includes a review step prior to order completion, and that the customer’s data is handled securely. Popular trustmarks include those by Thuiswinkel, Trusted Shops and Webshop Keurmark.
Read more about Dutch webshop trustmarks.
EU DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET
In the 2010’s a key goal of the European Commission was to grow total EU online sales. The ‘Digital Single Market’ initiative was introduced to make cross-border purchases easier for consumers.
Two key priorities within the plan were:
- Ban IP Geo-Filtering – a process by which a consumer’s IP address is used to automatically direct to the webshop the retailer has set up for that country. Such action does not allow the consumer to get the best price if the retailer is selling the same item at a lower cost in another EU webshop.
- Reduce Cross-Border Delivery Charges – the commission found that freight companies were adding surcharges to cross-border shipments that were excessive compared to the additional costs those companies actually incurred.
NL WEBSHOPS ARE RARELY MULTI-LINGUAL
The most common problem expats in the Netherlands face when making an online purchase from a Dutch retailer is the language barrier. Few webshops in Holland have an English-language option on their website. Expats generally use a browser translation app, but can run into problems during the checkout process as most translation apps don’t work with encrypted web pages.
BIGGEST WEBSHOPS IN THE NETHERLANDS
For 2020, the 10 biggest online shops in the Netherlands were:
#1 bol.com – sales €2.17B
This Dutch online department store sells all types of consumer products and services, from perfume and jewelry to sporting goods and tools. Bol.com is owned by Ahold Delhaize, the same parent company of the Albert Heijn supermarket chain, which then allows you to have your bol.com order delivered to a local AH store where you can collect it.
#2 COOLBLUE – sales €1.11B
Coolblue is a Dutch online electronics and appliances well known for their high level of customer service. Over the past few years they have added brick-and-mortar showrooms across the Netherlands including in Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven, Groningen, Haarlem, The Hague, Rotterdam, Tilburg and Utrecht. The Coolblue webshop has an English-language option.
#3 ALBERT HEIJN ONLINE – sales €680M
Home delivery of groceries has grown significantly in the Netherlands over the past few years as is evidenced by two supermarket webshops now among the countries ten biggest online retailers. In addition to its full range of groceries, the Albert Heijn online shop also lets you order items from sister companies Etos (health and beauty aids) and Gall&Gall (liquor).
#4 ZALANDO – sales €670M
The Dutch webshop of this German internet fashion retailer continues to grow, with sales up over €100M vs 2019. Zalando is currently in the process of building a 140,000m2 distribution center near Rotterdam, its first in the Netherlands, which should be up and running by mid-2021. The company sells clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children.
#5 WEHKAMP – sales €490M
This Dutch company started as a catalog business in the 1950’s and made the transition to online retailer in the mid 1990’s. Since 2016, the company has slid in the rankings, from #2 down to its current #5 position. Recently, Wehkamp updated its online platform, introduced new branding and launched an offline, fashion-focused marketing campaign. The retailer is an online department store that sells apparel, footwear, jewelry/watches, cosmetics/perfume, electronics/appliances, furniture/bedding, sporting goods and toys/games.
#6 AMAZON – sales €400M
The world’s largest internet retailer only ranks sixth in online sales by Dutch consumers, but that is expected to grow significantly in the next few years following the expansion of the Amazon.nl webshop in March 2020. Up until then, the Dutch site only sold e-books, so customers looking for any other merchandise generally shopped either Amazon Germany or Amazon UK. With the expansion of Amazon Netherlands, Dutch consumers are now offered Amazon Prime memberships at just €2.99/month which includes unlimited free shipping, access to Amazon Prime Video and more.
#7 JUMBO – sales €350M
The Netherlands’ second largest supermarket chain, Jumbo, generated €350M through its webshop, a 25% increase over 2019 online sales. It is the second year Jumbo has ranked in the top 10, up from #8 last year.
#8 ABOUT YOU – sales €280M
This German online fashion retailer has grown significantly since its founding in 2013 and ranks among the Netherlands’ 10 biggest webshops for the first time at #8. The company utilizes personalized shopping technology (both online and via their smartphone app) in digitizing the shopping street experience. It is based in Hamburg and is a division of Otto.
#9T DE BIJENKORF – sales €250M
The online sales of Dutch luxury department store De Bijenkorf grew significantly during the past year as the company began shipping to Germany and Belgium. After dropping out of the top 10 in 2019, the retailer returns in 2020 to tie for the #9 slot with H&M, having generated €250M in online sales.
#9T H&M – sales €250M
The H&M Netherlands webshop sales grew approximately 16% from 2019 to 2020, which places it in a tie for the #9 slot. H&M is a popular fast-fashion retailer that sells lower-priced clothing and accessories for men, women, children and babies as well as home furnishings, decor and bedding.
BUYING FROM NON-EU WEBSHOPS
Consumers in the Netherlands can buy from a webshop based outside the European Union if the retailer ships to Holland AND the order does not contain any products banned from private import (such as prescription medicines and most cosmetics).
Depending on the total cost of the order, additional charges may be levied. This relates primarily to shipments with a total value greater than €250 per the import paperwork. Total shipment value = merchandise cost + sales tax + shipping charge + insurance cost. Shipments in excess of will be assessed import duties which will need to be paid before you can receive the package. The fee must be paid to the courier at the time of delivery. An exception to the rule would be if the applicable import duty would be less than €10. In that instance, the charge would not be levied.
Consumers should be aware that products purchased from outside the EU often do not meet EU safety standards. The same is true of the consumer’s rights. The EU standard guarantees do not apply.
Find out more about Dutch import duties when purchasing from a non-EU web shop.