Market Update | THE NETHERLANDS | 9% Growth in Online Sales

EDE | Turnover in first half of 2012 reaches €4.61 billion | Biggest increase in online products.

Despite the continuing crisis, the turnover in products and services via the internet increased during the first half of 2012 to €4.61 billion. While the physical retail trade is still under pressure (CBS, 2012), the market for online sales remains stable, growing yet again by 9% in comparison with the first half of 2011.

This can be seen in the Thuiswinkel Market Monitor 2012-1, twice-yearly research into consumer expenditure sponsored by PostNL, carried out by Blauw Research and verified via the retail panel of GfK. The research is commissioned by, the lobby organisation for almost 1700 webshops in the Netherlands.



Ed Nijpels: innovative trading pays off

Ed Nijpels, chairman of “Online sales are increasing steadily. The online branch shows just how lucrative innovative trading can be; online retail has become an important factor in the economic landscape. At the same time, we do find next year’s reduced purchasing power (0.75%) and the extremely low level of consumer confidence worrisome. During the State opening of Parliament this week, once again it became apparent just how bleak the economic times are in which we live, though there is no question of a reduced willingness to spend on the internet. We hope soon to have a stable government that will pursue effective policy measures in order to tackle the economic problems. This would do much to promote consumer confidence and economic recovery”. According to, online retail trade can make an important contribution.


Consumers ordering more online

As can be seen from the Thuiswinkel Market Monitor, consumers are still ordering more online and more frequently. Despite the crisis, on average consumers made five online purchases during the first half of 2012, a 7% increase in comparison with last year. Frank Sibbel, Managing Partner of Blauw Research: “The most important driver of growth is still the number of online orders”. In total 42 million orders were placed via internet during the first half of 2012, a 15% growth. Wijnand Jongen, director of, calls this remarkable. “This represents growth even in comparison with last year, when growth was 13%.” Online purchasers currently spend less per order. The average value of online orders in the first half of 2012 was €110, i.e., 5% less than last year.


300,000 consumers purchased online for the first time

Not only the number of orders, but also the number of purchasers is still rising. In total 8.5 million internetters purchased something online during the first half of 2012. Of this total, 300,000 consumers made their first online purchase. The proportionate increase in new online purchasers is still falling. Market growth is mainly due to purchasers ordering more frequently.


Growth mainly in online expenditure on products (+13%)

Sales in online products (+13%) are increasing faster than sales in online services, such as holidays, insurance and tickets (+5%). Nevertheless, these are wonderful statistics, says Wijnand Jongen. “In economically difficult times, segments such as travel are often the first to experience disappointing results. The growth in online services is managing to retain its position; last year economic growth for services was 6%.”


Most rapid growth in Interior & Garden online sales

Relatively new online segments, such as Interior & Garden (+29%) and Toys (+25%), are busy catching up. The large segments Clothing (+15%) and White Goods (+17%) are also still doing well. “A wider assortment, good online marketing, improved mobile channels, keen prices and – of course – enormous confidence in online purchasing ensures that consumers find their way to webshops more frequently”, says Wijnand Jongen.

The Travel segment remains the largest online market segment (€1.89 billion). Package holidays/apartments, with €1.18 billion, still have the biggest share in the online travel market. The market volume of Airplane tickets/Hotels is €710 million. With a turnover of €610 million and 13% growth, the (mobile) Telecom segment has become the second largest segment. The turnover in online clothing during the first half of 2012 was €345 million (+15%).


Growing importance of rapid delivery

During the past year people increasingly mentioned speed of delivering online orders as an advantage of online shopping. “The time between ordering and delivery has been reduced considerably during recent years. A growing number of webshops can accommodate the desire of their online shoppers by delivering orders the next day before 22.00 hours”, says Frank Sibbel. “This was once a big difference with physical shops, one that is now gradually disappearing. This too is contributing to growth in the online market.”


Growth in online shopping set to continue during 2012

The webshop market will continue to grow during the rest of 2012. “Consumers have really discovered the advantages of the online shopping channel and welcomed it with open arms. The willingness to purchase via internet will continue to grow”, says Wijnand Jongen. This applies in particular to the mobile channel; mobile sales (via smartphone or tablet) are positively booming. Wijnand Jongen: “This development is boosting the webshop market even more. Future growth will have to come mainly from experienced purchasers; the numbers of new purchasers continues to level off. On the basis of these figures, we believe there is a real chance that online consumer expenditure will reach the €10 billion mark this year.”


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