Amazon comes to Holland

Amazon has recently announced their full scale entrance in the Dutch e-commerce market. It will take place in Q1 2020. Until today, Dutch online consumers looking for access to the full range of products, have to shop on Amazon.de, which is available in Dutch and where they can pay with iDeal. Amazon.nl sells only e-books and Kindle e-readers at this time. The product range on Amazon.nl will now be expanded by ‘millions of products’ in 20 product segments, including clothing. Both Dutch and international retailers are invited to register as a reseller on the Amazon platform in the Netherlands.

The expansion of Amazon.nl will go step by step, Amazon says. Distribution will be done from warehouses outside Holland, like Mönchengladbach in Germany, which is very close to the Dutch border. Over time, it seems likely that warehouses will be established in Holland as well, if only to avoid exporting goods for warehousing to Germany for Dutch resellers using Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA).

Already today, over one million products on Amazon.de can be ordered until midnight for next day delivery into the Netherlands. “Nowhere in the world we offer such cut-off times for next day delivery”, Amazon spokesman Alex Ootes was quoted on Emerce.nl.

This indicates that Amazon’s strategy for the Dutch market will be based on fast delivery (very important in the Dutch market), besides better prices (due to its purchasing power) and an enormous assortment. Also, with a full-grown webshop, Amazon Prime will become much more attractive for Dutch consumers.

At the moment the Dutch e-commerce market is dominated by Bol.com and Coolblue, with €2.1 bn and €1.0 bn revenues in 2018. Already, Amazon is #6 in the online market with estimated Dutch revenues of €350m (the main part of this probably being cross-border revenues from Amazon.de). In total, Dutch domestic online product sales were €13.1 bn in 2018, according to Thuiswinkel.org, the Dutch Trade Association for digital commerce.

Amazon’s announcement has led to broad discussions on the impact this will have on the retail landscape in the Netherlands, both online and offline. From market entries by Amazon in other countries, we learned that competition is blown away or marginalized. Some e-commerce experts say this was only possible because of the lack of competition in those markets. But looking at Germany, with established players like Otto and a strong homeshopping tradition, this hardly sounds plausible.

A retail expert from Rabobank estimates that Amazon will be the dominant online retailer in Holland within 10 years, with €10 bn in revenues. He thinks that Amazon will give an enormous boost to online shopping in the Netherlands, initially at the expense of physical stores, but eventually also at the cost of the current online retailers. Based on prices, product ranges and reach, Amazon clearly has the best proposition. Both physical and online merchants will have to find a strategy to deal with this, according to Rabobank. Offering top service and a great shopping experience could be a successful approach, particularly for brick and mortar retail.

Bol.com, part of FMCG giant Ahold Delhaize, claims it has no fear whatsoever for the coming Amazon invasion. They rely on the strong position they built up over the years and focus on developing their platform as a marketplace and introducing new product categories, like fashion. Zalando (#4 in the Dutch market, with €550m estimated sales in 2018) says more or less the same, claiming a different position in fashion, compared to Amazon and working on improving the shopping experience for consumers. Wehkamp (#5, with €530m revenue in 2018), however, is already struggling with declining revenues and losses. They don’t seem to be in a very strong position to deal with a new and powerful competitor like Amazon.

Simon Kucher Consultants have a different view on the situation. In their opinion, Amazon faces a serious challenge in Holland. Based on research among Dutch consumers, they concluded that online shoppers will only switch to Amazon, if prices are at least 10% lower compared to Bol.com, Coolblue and other established online retailers in Holland. A Dutch e-commerce professor stated that the Netherlands have a well-developed e-commerce market, which is not all that easy to conquer. The author of the book ‘Amazon for dummies’, however, puts it like this: “I can’t think of anything that is going to stop Amazon from becoming painfully huge in the Netherlands as well”.

This article is based on publications on Emerce.nl and het Financieele Dagblad. For more information on this topic or e-commerce in Holland in general, please contact Ed Hensen on hensen@ecommerceinholland.com or +31 6 22 55 55 46.


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