Belgium is a rich and sophisticated online market with few structural barriers to entry. The main obstacles a newcomer should prepare to face are localisation, the need to offer local payment methods, and the high level of competition they are likely to face in a sophisticated and already crowded market.
The country’s payment culture is almost Anglo-Saxon, with 45% of all purchases paid for by card . The next most-popular payment method is bank transfer, with a 19% share of e-commerce payments . E-wallets come in third, with 14% .
The IMF expects the Belgian economy to grow by 2.1% in 2022, down from 6.3% in 2020 . In 2022, the fund forecasts a further drop in the rate of expansion to 1.4% . By summer 2022, euro area inflation had reached almost 9% . In Belgium, Eurostat reports an even higher rate of inflation, at around 10.5% .
The e-commerce market
E-commerce in Belgium is growing at a rate of almost 18% a year . The average consumer spends 1,193 $US a year online . The total value of the Belgian e-commerce market in 2021 is over 13 billion $US , expanding to over 21 billion $US by 2026 .
In 2018 the Belgium government lifted the ban on evening and Sunday work which sped up online deliveries in 2019. In 2021 the Belgium postal service Bpost invested in expanding e-commerce logistics after an upsurge in deliveries in 2020 . From 1st July 2021 taxes are charged on all e-commerce purchases made in Belgium whether the purchase is shipped from within the EU or not, and is chargeable from the first cent .
With large neighbors to the north and south sharing the country’s national languages, Belgians are relaxed about buying cross-border, with a cross-border proportion of 23% of total e-commerce . Out the 27 countries in the EU, only in seven are consumers more likely to shop cross-border than they are in Belgium .
Belgian e-commerce enabling and limiting factors
Almost 100% of the adult population in Belgium has a bank account. 51% has a credit card . Both figures are above the average for Western and Central Europe. The financial infrastructure in Belgium is sophisticated, ubiquitous, and highly developed.
The smartphone penetration is at 84%. This is predicted to rise to 88% by 2025 . 83% of Belgian Internet users have a Facebook account, 69% have a YouTube account and 66% use WhatsApp . 72% of Belgians say they have bought something online in the last month (33% using a mobile device) .
Belgium is ranked third in the World Bank’s Global Logistics Index, which is based on a worldwide survey of global freight forwarders and express carriers. The index measures factors such as customs performance, infrastructure quality, and timeliness of shipments.
- Original PPRO research
- https://www.statista.com/statistics/568069/predicted-smartphone-user-penetration-rate-in-belgium8. https://www.moondustagency.com/knowledge-center/digital-landscape-social-media-belgium-2020