Belgium flag Belgium: Buying and Selling

E-commerce in Belgium


Internet access
Belgium has a population of 11.4 million people of whom 10 million (87%) have internet access. Around 8.9 million persons are considered to be e-shoppers. The internet infrastructure has developed fast in recent years and the country has now a quality and wide network. According to the IMF ranking, Belgium is the world’s 25th richest country in terms of GDP and 35th in GDP per capita. The most visited websites on the internet in Belgium are Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter and Instagram.
E-commerce market
2017 was a very good year for e-commerce in Belgium. The total turnover grew by 34.2% compared to 2016, and amounted to US$ 9.53 billion. In terms of revenue, it amounted to US$ 4.9 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach US$ 7.1 billion by 2021. Fashion is the leading e-commerce category, accounting for a US$ 2.3 billion share of the market, followed by electronics, which was USD 1.3 billion in 2017. In the 2015 Global Retail e-commerce index produced by AT Kearney, Belgium was considered the 9th most attractive online market in the world. This report highlighted the good infrastructure network and the potential for growth in the country. Like in many European countries, Amazon is the main online store in Belgium. The most visited online stores besides Amazon are Coolblue (generalist), Bol (generalist, not in French), Zalando (clothing), MediaMarkt (multimedia and home appliances), Vente-Exclusive (flash sales, private community), Colruyt (food), Unigro (generalist), Vanden Borre (multimedia and home apliances) and H&M (clothing). In terms of second-hand buying and selling, is one of the most popular websites in Belgium. The country’s market is strongly affected by the existing language dichotomy. Almost every website mentioned above has French and Flemish versions, and sometimes English and Dutch versions as well. This is an essential criterion for any online shop in the country. Given that Belgium is situated at the European crossroads, and has good infrastructure networks, cross-border online sales are normal in the country. According to Eurostat, cross-border sales represent 40% of all online sales, and mostly come from neighboring countries such as the Netherlands, France and Germany, but also from the USA and the UK.
Social media
Social media as a whole are very popular in Belgium. Nearly all internet users in Belgium use social media of some kind, so there are about 10 million social media users in the country. Facebook is the most popular social media by far, with 6.6 million users. Instagram counts 2.5 million users, and is particularly popular among younger generations, as nearly 85% of them are under 45 years old. WhatsApp is also widely used, and between 2016 and 2017, daily users in Flanders rose from 25% to 31%. The increase was noticeable in all age groups, but was particularly significant among those aged over 65, as the number of users in that group tripled in the period. Youtube, Twitter and Linkedin are the other main social networks. In particular, LinkedIn has been growing at a fast pace during the last couple of years. Swarm, an app developed by Foursquare that allows users to share the places they have visited, is also quite popular in the country. As of August 2018, the most popular social media platforms in the country by market share were Facebook (63.82%), Pinterest (21.5%), Twitter (4.37%), YouTube (4.13%), Instagram (3.85%) and Tumblr (1.26%).

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Latest Update: July 2024