The Netherlands e-commerce

Global e-commerce markets: The Netherlands

Top spot for online retailers to expand logistics

As the number of Internet users has been growing rapidly in recent years, the number of digital buyers is also increasing every year. In 2020, more than two billion people made a purchase online. The following year, 2021, there was even $4.9 trillion in retail e-commerce sales worldwide. By the time it is 2025, this would grow by 50 per cent to $7.4 trillion. For online shops, it is therefore wise to focus not only on domestic sales but also on cross-border sales.

Cross-border e-commerce is a smart way for online retailers to create a broader market, which can lead to increased sales. It is important to remember that selling products to foreign customers is not the same as selling products to domestic consumers. Consumers in each country have different habits and preferences when it comes to online shopping. In this blog series, we analyse different e-commerce markets. In the previous edition, we discussed online sales in the United Kingdom, today the next part: the Netherlands.

Why is the Netherlands so popular for e-commerce retailers?

The Netherlands is a very popular destination when it comes to foreign online retailers who want to expand. There are numerous reasons why the Netherlands is such a popular destination for e-commerce retailers looking to expand their logistics. One of the reasons is that the country has a high Internet and e-commerce penetration. For example, 97% of the Dutch population has access to the internet, and 77% will have made an online purchase by 2021.

Furthermore, the country has a great infrastructure: you can ship things via the port of Rotterdam, you can have products flown in via Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, and you can use the transport routes to the rest of Europe. And if that wasn’t all, we can also talk about the share of e-commerce in retail. In 2010, less than 5% of sales were made online, by 2020 this had risen to 18%, and it is even expected to increase to 23% by 2025.

Haven rotterdam harbour e-commerce

E-commerce market share in the Netherlands

In 2020, e-commerce in the Netherlands was worth €26,6 billion. That’s an estimated growth of 7 percent compared to the situation one year before. Online sales in the Netherlands currently account for 10.3 percent of the country’s total retail industry. These figures indicate that e-commerce plays an important role in the Dutch economy, particularly in the retail industry.

With almost 335 million online orders, the Dutch e-commerce market was valued at € 26,6 billions in 2020

Dutch e-commerce landscape

Research by UNCTAD shows that Switzerland has narrowly displaced the Netherlands as the highest ranked country in the index.  This means that the Netherlands had the second best e-commerce landscape in the world in 2020, followed by Denmark, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The West European country has thus dropped from first place in 2017 to the second place.

The high ranking of the Netherlands can mainly be explained by the good scores in the field of secure services. In this area, the Netherlands is ranked top among all countries included. In addition, the country also has a huge number of online stores, 82,000. About half of these online stores are pure play online stores.

The biggest bottleneck of the Dutch e-commerce landscape is the late delivery of products ordered online. In 2020, 34% of Dutch online shoppers were faced with late delivery of the ordered product. Technical problems and information about guarantee or rights are also mentioned as bottlenecks of the Dutch e-commerce landscape.

dutch e-commerce landscape

Product categories and stores

When Dutch consumers shop online, they spend the most money on clothes (48%), followed by the food category (35%). This product category, is also the strongest riser. The food category shows an increase from 25% in 2017, to 35% in 2020. Other categories that have a large share of the pie are furniture (23%), sporting goods (23%), computers (22%), cosmetics (21%) and newspapers (21%).

With regard to online stores in the Netherlands,,, Zalando, Coolblue, H&M, HEMA, Otto, VidaXL and Amazon are the largest. Almost all of these online stores are local players, only Zalando and H&M are not Dutch companies. It is striking that worldwide large marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are less popular in the Netherlands than in many other countries. Online stores such as and are doing a lot better in the Netherlands, due to offering the preferred payment methods by the Dutch consumers.

When it comes to cross-border purchases, the Dutch prefer to shop at Chinese online stores. It turns out that 59% of the cross-border expenses are spent on Chinese online stores. Other countries that are popular among Dutch online shoppers are Germany and the United Kingdom.

Clothes e-commerce netherlands

Online customers in the Netherlands

77 percent of consumers aged 12 and over have purchased something online at least once in 2020. In total, these online shoppers have purchased something online 335 million times. In addition to the fact that the Dutch are buying more and more online, the average purchase price is also rising every year. About a quarter of the Dutch spend between 100 and 500 euros on e-commerce in three months.

When the Dutch buy something online, they prefer to pay through iDEAL. This is an online payment method developed by the Dutch banking community. This payment method is used in 60% of online transactions in the Netherlands. Dutch online shoppers use iDEAL because payment is easy. Also, a lot of online stores provide a QR code that online shoppers can scan with their mobile banking app, so that payments can be processed quickly and easily. Other popular payment methods in the Netherlands are Paypal, MasterCard and VISA. If we look at popular post-payment methods, these are AfterPay, acceptgiro (giro transfer) and Klarna.

Every year in the Netherlands, the use of the smartphone in e-commerce becomes more popular. In 2020, 58% of Dutch online shoppers used a smartphone during an online purchase. This share was still 28% in 2017. It is vital for all generations that they feel safe with the payment of their online purchases via smartphone and this is increasingly the case. We see that a shift is noticeable here from laptop and desktop to smartphone. The smartphone has even overtaken the desktop with regard to the most commonly used devices for online shopping.

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