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Fringe Categories Buoy Netherlands' B2C Ecommerce

More diverse product buying helps overcome an overall ecommerce slowdown in Q1

June 14, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

Consumers in the Netherlands are getting cozier with ecommerce.

Buying of “less mature” product categories helped push the country’s business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales up 11% in Q1 2017, according to GfK Netherlands research for Thuiswinkel and PostNL.

Of the quarter’s €5.55 billion ($6.14 billion) in B2C ecommerce sales, €2.84 billion ($3.14 billion) was spent on physical products, a 17% increase from Q1 2016, while €2.70 billion ($2.99 billion) was given over to services, up 6% from a year earlier.

The gains were similar when looked at by share of transactions, with the number of product purchases up 13% vs. a 7% rise in service purchases.

B2C Ecommerce Sales in the Netherlands, 2015 & 2016 (billions of € and % of total B2C sales)

Several product categories historically less popular for ecommerce purchasing saw the greatest growth in online sales during Q1, led by a 52% increase in health and beauty product sales, and approximately 30% surges for the home and garden, sports and recreation and toy segments.

Fashion, a more mature product area for digital buying, also saw significant growth, with online sales up 34%.

“One of the main reasons that online sales continue to grow so strongly is the growing trust of consumers in online shopping,” said Wijnand Jongen, CEO of Thuiswinkel. “We see this in consumers buying from an increasing number of product categories from behind their computers. In addition, the rise of online sales platforms contributes to the [ecommerce] growth for less mature product categories, as consumers can shop on a single site quickly and easily in different segments.”

Nevertheless, there were some negatives in the numbers.

The quarter’s year-on-year sales increase was down from the 23% seen for full-year 2016, when B2C ecommerce sales in the Netherlands passed €20 million in value. In addition, the number of individual online buyers fell 1% during the quarter compared with 12 months earlier.

Increased purchasing by individual buyers and greater basket values helped counterbalance that dip. According to GfK Netherlands’ figures, the country’s B2C ecommerce buyers made an average of 4.0 digital purchases in Q1 2017, up from an average of 3.6 a year earlier. Likewise, their average combined value of those purchases rose to €502 ($555.34) from the €449 seen in Q1 2016.

For full-year 2017, GfK Netherlands predicts B2C ecommerce spending in the Netherlands will rise by around 9% to €22 billion ($24.34 billion). That increase would be down from the double-digit gains seen in 2015 and 2016.

eMarketer expects retail ecommerce sales in the Netherlands will climb by 10.6% in 2017, a growth rate down 2.2 percentage points from 2016. Similarly, digital travel sales in the country are expected to increase by 5.0% this year vs. a 6.5% gain last year.

Cliff Annicelli

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