Online shopping in Belgium - Statistics & Facts

Belgium's demographics and national history influence its use of online retail in a strong way. The country consists of three languages, represented by the Dutch-speaking population in the northern region of Flanders, the French-speakers of Wallonia in the south and a small linguistic group of Germans close to the neighboring country of Luxembourg. Language is an important driver for Belgium's online shopping behavior. The Netherlands, France and China were listed in 2017 as the most popular countries for cross-border e-commerce purchases. Additionally, a 2018 survey ranked Belgium as one of the most likely countries to buy products and services from a foreign e-commerce retailer. In terms of the use of online retail, the country was listed as tenth in Europe with 60 percent of Belgian consumers aged 16-to-75 years old indicating they use e-commerce to order goods or services in 2017, compared to a European average of 57 percent.

At the end of the first quarter of 2018, approximately 7.4 million people shopped online in Belgium, leading to 23 million online purchases. In 2017, online shopping in Belgium reached a value of nearly 10.52 billion euros. This is roughly the same number reported in another source. The country had approximately ten million Internet users in 2018, with a penetration rate reaching 89 percent of the total population. When asked which new products or services they had bought via the Internet in the prior twelve months, Belgian respondents of a 2018 survey listed fashion as the leading product segment. Compared to other European countries, however, Belgium ranks behind several European countries when it comes to buying fashion online.

Most of the biggest online retailers in Belgium come from outside of the country. Examples of this include Bol.com, Coolblue (both from the Netherlands) and Zalando (Germany). Amazon attracted the highest amount of web traffic from Belgium but this traffic was split among Amazon.fr, Amazon.com and Amazon.de. Approximately 55 percent of Belgian respondents indicated in a 2018 survey they would do their online shopping both domestically as well as on a foreign e-commerce platform. Popular domestic retailers include electronics store Vandenborre and flash sales website Vente-Exclusive.

Belgian customers use cards and online bank payment methods for their online purchases. Credit cards were the most used payment method in 2018, closely followed by Bancontact. Bancontact is a payment scheme from Brussels that, like PayPal, is responsible for the processing of electronic payments. This scheme exclusively targets the Belgian market and is the leading payment card scheme of the country before Visa, Mastercard and American Express. The online scheme can be used by all customers with a Bancontact branded payment card, which is issued by more than 20 Belgian banks.

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Cross-border online shopping in Belgium - Important statistics

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