Belgians spend 16.3bn euros online, but large share goes to foreign webshops

Belgian consumers spent 16.3 billion euros on online shopping last year, an increase of 10.7 per cent compared to 2022, according to calculations by industry association Becom published on Wednesday. However, Belgian merchants are under-represented on online marketplaces and are therefore missing out on sales.

By the end of 2023, there were 63,202 Belgian online shops. Nevertheless, 5.5 billion euros of online spending went to foreign webshops or marketplaces. Becom is urging Belgian merchants to capitalise on the growth of e-commerce.

"Entrepreneurs who have already taken the plunge report an average increase in turnover of 23 per cent," says Greet Dekocker, managing director of Becom. "So our advice is to test your product range on a marketplace." Major players such as Amazon and allow companies to sell products through their highly trafficked marketplaces.

'Market stalls'

"You have to see these international platforms as a traditional market where webshops are like stalls," Dekocker told VRT NWS. "There are now mainly foreign stalls and too few Belgian ones", leaving room for growth.

"You have to see these international platforms as a traditional market, where webshops are like stalls. There are now mainly foreign stalls"

Becom also notes that the growth is seen mainly in services, such as travel and tickets. "For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic, we are seeing a full recovery in online spending on services (8 billion euros). Nearly 68 per cent of all services are bought online," says the press release. Clothing, on the other hand, saw a decline of 1.8 per cent.

Mostly services

However, there is still a significant difference between goods and services. While Belgian consumers already buy almost 70 per cent of all services online, only a small proportion of physical goods are bought online. Consumers still buy goods in physical shops in 85 per cent of cases.

According to Becom's statistics, around a quarter of all consumer purchases are now made online. By comparison, five years ago, online shopping accounted for only 11 billion euros, or about a fifth of purchases.



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