Dutch online market grows by 9%, reaching €9.8 billion, despite recession

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The protracted crisis and the drop in consumer confidence have little effect on online consumer expenditure, which grew yet again in 2012 by 9% in comparison to the previous year, reaching a total turnover of €9.8 billion. This can be seen from the Thuiswinkel Market Monitor 2012-2, the twice-yearly research into consumer expenditure carried out by Blauw Research and sponsored by PostNL. The research is calibrated against the retail panel of GfK. The research is commissioned by Thuiswinkel.org, the association that promotes the interests of more then 1700 webshops in the Netherlands.

As Ed Nijpels, chairman of Thuiswinkel.org, puts it: “It’s as though the recession can’t get a grip on the online retail branch. The number of online purchases continues to grow, despite the dramatic level of consumer confidence. This means there are sufficient opportunities via the online channel for entrepreneurs in the retail trade.”

Growth in online orders amounts to 13%
The frequency with which consumers order via the internet is still increasing, which is boosting the turnover growth of the online market. In 2012 online purchasers placed an average of more than 8 orders per person, 8% more than one year ago. The total number of online orders kept on growing by 13% to 88 million orders in 2012. This is more than 240,000 orders a day. Carlos Mendes Aguiar, director of PostNL Retail & E-Commerce Services: “We see the same growth percentage in the volume of package post via PostNL. The increased number of orders remains the motor of the online market. This used to be due to new online purchasers, now it is down to increased frequency. Of course, it is also stimulated by the growth in retailers’ multi-channel activities”. People are spending less per order. Consumers spent €111 per order, 4% less than in 2011.

Number of purchasers increased by 400,000
The number of online purchasers is still increasing. A total of 10.58 million internetters purchased something online in 2012; a 4% increase in comparison with one year ago. The arrival of new purchasers is levelling off; 400,000 Dutch consumers purchased for the first time via internet in 2012.

More turnover growth from online products than from online services
The turnover growth of the online market comes mainly from increased expenditure on products (+12%), such as toys and clothes. Just as in 2011, these are growing faster than turnover from the online sale of services such as travel, insurance and tickets (+6%).

Large segments continue to grow
Growth in the large online segments is also driving turnover growth. The segments for online clothes, with a turnover of €730 million (+16%) and (mobile) telecom, with a turnover of €1.25 billion (+14%), increased sharply in comparison with 2011. Per order, most is spent online on travel; this segment therefore remains the largest segment within the online market. Online Travel grew in 2012 by 4% to an annual turnover of €3.8 billion. The segments that grew fastest in 2012 are toys (+28%, €83 million), music/downloads (+27%, €103 million) and home&garden (+23% to €158 million). Wijnand Jongen, director of Thuiswinkel.org: “Relatively new segments are busy catching up. A larger assortment, growth in the mobile channel, keen prices and increased confidence in online purchasing are encouraging consumers to visit webshops more frequently, both for traditional segments and for rapid-growth segments.”

Number of orders and multi-channel drivers for the online market in 2013
The online market is expected to grow by 8% in 2013, bringing its annual turnover up to €10.5 billion. Consumers will order more online and more frequently. This is due to three factors. Firstly, the number of orders is growing due to rapid and flexible delivery times and good procedures for returns. In addition, the rapid upsurge of the mobile channel (tablets and smartphones) is contributing to volume growth. Consumers are online more often and using the mobile channel (tablet and smartphone) more frequently to find products and shops, and to make immediate purchases online. Consumers are less bound by location and time when making purchases due to availability and overlap between the various sales channels (shop, internet and mobile). As a result consumers will be more likely to opt for internet as transaction channel. Frank Sibbel, Managing Partner of Blauw Research: “In 2017 we expect that the total market for online consumer expenditure will have expanded considerably. As a result, the market for online products will account for more than 10% of the total retail trade in the Netherlands (food + non-food)”. Ed Nijpels: “We like looking ahead. Our Shopping 2020 project allows us to predict consumer behaviour in the future and whether consumers’ online expenditure will continue to grow”.

For more information on Shopping2020, see www.thuiswinkel.org/shopping2020

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