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RESEARCH COMMENTARY: What is the state of ecommerce in Belgium and the Netherlands?

Image courtesy of Parcel Monitor

It appears that the ecommerce market in Europe is growing steadily amidst the pandemic. According to Statista, Europe’s ecommerce market is estimated to reach US$530M by 2021. Belgium and the Netherlands are some of the countries that experienced a surge in user penetration and ecommerce sales respectively in 2020. 

As Europe was hit by the second wave of pandemic in 2020, it had definitely affected the state of ecommerce in Europe, including Belgium and the Netherlands. But how much of an effect did it have on the state of ecommerce in both countries? 

Parcels in Belgium take an average transit time of 1.2 days

A large number of Belgian consumers have been shopping locally over the pandemic, and that didn’t seem to affect the time taken for the first delivery attempt during the national lockdown. Even during the  end-of-year holidays, one of the biggest shopping seasons for most consumers, Belgium was well prepared for the peak season crunch time with additional manpower to manage orders and capacity. 


92% delivery success rate for parcels in Belgium

During the second half of 2020, Belgium was in a national lockdown and the majority of Belgians were working from home with social gatherings capped at four pax. It is no surprise that the first delivery success rate was as high as 92% with everyone staying home; minimising the risk of missed deliveries. 


10% of all Belgian parcels were dropped off at collection points

10.1% of parcels were dropped off to collection points in the second half of 2020. As of November 2020, Bpost, one of Belgium’s leading postal services opened up to retailers to offer collection services in local post offices to manage the overwhelming shipments and deliveries.

So what about the Netherlands? 

Parcels in the Netherlands take an average transit time of 1.4 days

The Netherlands was also similarly affected by a second wave of the pandemic, with the Dutch government enforcing stricter lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID. 

However, this did not seem to have worsened the domestic delivery performance of the Netherlands as compared to its European counterparts. Germany, the UK, France, and Sweden took an average transit time of 1.5 days, 2.2 days, 1.8 days, and 2.1 days respectively during the second half of 2020. 

PostNL delivers the majority of parcels in the country — it reportedly delivered more than 337 million packages in 2020 with a 55.5% surge in online sales in November 2020. Despite the increase in ecommerce volume, the Netherlands has proven to have an efficient logistics management system. 


95% delivery success rate for Netherlands deliveries

During the second wave of the pandemic, tightened lockdown measures and restrictions kept Dutch consumers at home. As working from home was set as the default working condition in the country, higher delivery success rates were expected. 


6% of all parcels were dropped off at collection points in the Netherlands

A survey by Statista saw that 4 in 5 Dutch consumers picked home delivery as their preferred delivery method. Moreover, there were only 122 parcel lockers nationwide in 2020. The worsened pandemic situation and restrictions weren’t exactly compelling factors for consumers to opt for an alternative delivery method to home delivery. 

Growth of delivery alternatives in Europe

Despite the low usage rates for alternative delivery options in Belgium and the Netherlands, it appears that top retailers in Europe have started rolling out these alternatives. According to RetailX’s data on the Top50 Retailers, 73% of these retailers are offering ‘Click and Collect’, making it the most popular delivery option offered. 

As more retailers start offering more delivery options, it will be no surprise that both Belgium and the Netherlands will catch up with the usage of collection points and other delivery methods. 

About Parcel Monitor

Parcel Monitor is an InternetRetailing Knowledge Partner and the leading platform for ecommerce logistics insights. By leveraging on our data capabilities, Parcel Monitor creates an open space for the ecosystem to discover, collaborate and innovate.

About the Author

Joey is a Digital and Content Marketer with experience in digital storytelling, content creation and SEO at Parcel Monitor.

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