E-commerce in Belgium: 46,000 webshops, 8 million customers

Following Paul Magnette’s statements on e-commerce, we wanted to know what the e-commerce sector represents in Belgium.

11 billion spent by 8 million consumers

In 2021, the first enlightening figure: 11 billion euros were spent by 8 million consumers in Belgium on the Internet. This figure is slightly higher than what we saw in 2020 with 10.6 billion euros, but very close to 2019 with 11.46 billion euros.

With the health crisis, Belgians have bought more online, but have, for example, bought fewer “services” such as airline tickets, hotel reservations or exhibition tickets due to the 2020 restrictions.

1 out of 2 products are bought abroad

On the other hand, these billions of euros spent by Belgians are not necessarily spent on Belgian platforms. According to Comeos, the federation of trade and services, one in two non-food products bought online in Belgium comes from abroad.

Which is why its CEO Dominique Michel says there is a shortage for Belgium: “This means that there are at least 15,000 jobs that have crossed the border, that have been created on the other side of the border, that is our concernHe says. What we are asking from Paul Magnette and his political colleagues is to make work in Belgium more flexible, so that we in Belgium have the opportunity to organize ourselves. We will never have working conditions like on Amazon and even better. We want to keep our Belgian social protection, but we also want to be able to fight the Amazon“.

40 Belgian webshops among the top 100

With us, BeCommerce, the organization that represents companies active in the Belgian digital market, annually publishes the top 100 best online stores active in Belgium. They are the ones who are essentially the source of the famous 11 billion euros that the Belgians spent on the Internet. And in this top 100 there are only about forty Belgian sites. The figure seems to correspond to Comeos’ statements about online shopping from abroad.

Sofie Geeroms, CEO of BeCommerce, still qualifies this statement. “In our country, the sector is not yet mature, but not everything is good abroad. Every year we progress, there are more and more Belgians in these 100 best online stores“She claims.

Before adding:There are several parameters to consider. A webshop like Veepee employs 600 people in Belgium even if it is originally French. Web shops sometimes have a deposit in one country, digital marketing in another, and software that is still managed in other countries. There is often an aspect that we manage from our country“.

46,000 online stores in Belgium

If most of the platforms are performing abroad, 46,000 webshops are still registered in Belgium. Another sign of the immaturity of the local sector, 40% of these online stores have been created in the last five years. The vast majority are also small structures: 75% are small and medium-sized enterprises, and among them 90% are even very small companies consisting of a maximum of 5 to 10 people according to BeCommerce.

That is why its CEO regrets Paul Magnette’s words: “We want as many small retailers as possible to do a side project to their business to increase their turnover. They need an open mind and proper legislation because the giants of the sector will always find solutions“, Explains Sofie Geeroms.

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