A unique characteristic of Belgium is that the country has succeeded in marketing itself as a gateway to Europe among non-European countries. Acknowledgement of this came in 2018 when Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba chose Liège in Belgium as the base for its first distribution center in Europe. Culturally, historically and economically, Belgium otherwise has strong ties to the Netherlands, which is evident in its shopping patterns.
Belgium should be of great interest to e-tailers searching for new markets in which to establish themselves. The country has a good IT infrastructure and competition online is lower than, for example, Germany. However, there are a few things to keep an eye on. First, it is important to be able to communicate with customers in the three official languages: Flemish, French and German. In addition, offering convenient home delivery options during daytime is also appreciated to a greater degree by Belgians than by other Europeans.
Belgian e-commerce consumers mainly buy fashion, home electronics and cosmetics online. Shopping from other countries is extremely popular, especially from the Netherlands, but also from China and Germany. Belgian men aged 20 to 49 are most likely to make cross-border purchases. Among the marketplaces, German Zalando is the most popular, especially among young women.
One thing that stands out is that Alibaba is larger than Amazon in Belgium, at least regarding the percentage of consumers who have shopped from each site. In all, 21 percent have made purchases from Alibaba during the past year, compared with 17 percent from Amazon.
Olof Källgren, Market Information Manager, Direct Link
Image and information above taken from the latest ”E-commerce in Europe” report.