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Despite a small population of 17.5m, Netherlands is the world’s 17th largest ecommerce market with annual sales of $22bn in 2021. Along with Belgium and Luxembourg, it is a constituent of ‘BENELUX’ states on the key western seaboard of the European Union. Ecommerce growth in the Netherlands was 14% up in 2021 and an impressive 97% of Dutch people have access to the internet. Online share of total retail sales is only 10.3% so there is plenty of headroom for future growth.
In addition to the domestic market potential, the Netherlands is experiencing a post-Brexit boom in the logistics sector with many UK businesses incorporating there, favouring its open economy and world-class infrastructure. Indeed, the Netherlands has the highest number of ecommerce websites per capita in Europe.
Fulfilmentcrowd operates Dutch fulfilment centres in Aalten and Born, offering over 75,000 sq ft of clean, modern warehouse capacity within easy reach of carrier hubs. If you want to store and send goods from a fulfilment centre in Netherlands, the following VAT guidance applies:
Dutch registered companies
You must have a Dutch VAT Number & EU EORI Number. If not registered for VAT, you still require a EORI number to export goods.
Companies registered outside Netherlands, but inside the EU
You must have a VAT & EORI Number registered in Netherlands or any other EU country. Customer invoices will be Zero rated on everything.
Customer registered outside the EU
You must have a VAT & EORI Number registered in Netherlands or any other EU country. In addition, you will need to appoint a fiscal representative or incorporate a company within the EU to ensure your goods can be imported into the Netherlands and delivered to the fulfilment centre.
The Netherlands is a relatively easy place to do business, with a low-regulation economy, good sea/road/air connectivity and long-standing position in world trade. Covering an amazing 41 square miles, Rotterdam is the largest sea port in Europe and key gateway for goods flow. Post-Brexit, many British online retailers have chosen the Netherlands to incorporate EU businesses and locate fulfilment centres to ensure friction-free trade with their customers across the bloc.
With very high levels of internet and mobile commerce penetration, the Netherlands should be on the roadmap for any growing online retailer. However, despite it’s outward-facing credentials, the market is largely dominated by local ecommerce brands and cross-border sales accounting for a lowly 15% of all purchases. Parcel delivery is a key driver in Dutch ecommerce culture and fast fulfilment of orders is essential to win customer loyalty with reported 25% sales uplifts for sellers offering next-day delivery.
Smartphones are a way of life for the Dutch, with 87 percent of people having mobile internet, compared to the EU average of 65 percent. This is driving the growth of mobile commerce which is expected to be a $16bn market in 2022. The highest-performing websites in the Netherlands have been built to a mobile-first standard and Dutch banks are innovating fast in in the field of mobile payments.
With an increase of 14%, the Netherlands eCommerce market contributed to the worldwide growth rate of 29% in 2021. Sales are forecast to continue rising at 4% year-on-year but the impact of Amazon’s 2020 launch is predicted to change buying behaviours and open the country to international operators.
In the context of global ecommerce, the Netherlands is somewhat of an outlier – Amazon is not the biggest player. Indeed, it does not even make the top 5! Historically, the Dutch have bought local and the largest player is Bol.com with sales of $1.9bn in 2021, followed by Albert Heijn ($1.8bn), Coolblue ($1.6bn), Zalando (£1bn) and Wehkamp ($960m). Respecting local tastes, national holidays (e.g. Sinterklaas on December 6) and Dutch-language product descriptions clearly has impact with the Dutch consumer.
Fashion is the leading product segment in Netherlands accounting for 31% of online sales. This is followed by Electronics & Media with 23%, Toys, Hobby & DIY (19%), Furniture & Appliances (15%) and Food & Personal Care (12%).
The leading delivery service is the domestic operator, Post NL, who carry approximately two thirds of domestic traffic which equates to 900,000 parcels daily throughout the BENELUX. For larger consignments, DPD are a strong contender for EU delivery with DHL, UPS and Fedex offering worldwide coverage through their international hubs.
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