The phase of renewed rapid expansion that began in 2016 continued, thanks to exceptionally strong sales of food and drinks retailing as well as still-respectable growth rates in traditional strongholds of internet retailing, such as apparel and footwear, toys and games, and consumer electronics and appliances. Despite the already-high share of internet retailing in these more mature digital categories, it is expected that they will continue to see healthy growth over the forecast period.
In 2018, internet retailing enjoyed widespread use among the Dutch population, with the share of shoppers buying something online at least once a year being one of the highest in Western Europe (according to Eurostat). Accordingly, the main way of boosting online sales further will consist of intensification: getting consumers to shop online more frequently.
Amid a climate of general optimism – with parent companies and independent investors in equal measure prepared to expand sales operations – sales through the internet retailing channel expanded rapidly in the Netherlands over the last two years of the review period. A contributing factor was the increasingly fierce competition caused by new entrants, such as the launch of a bespoke Dutch Amazon site in 2014 and, in grocery retailing, the launch of Picnic in the second half of 2015.
Given wide internet use among the Dutch population and the generally advanced technological state of the country, perhaps unsurprisingly a fair share of domestic players emerged over the past two decades. And while the modest size of the domestic market constitutes a disadvantage compared to large international rivals, domestic players were relatively successful at fending off international competition.
Bol.com BV, a subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize, remained the largest internet retailer in the Netherlands in 2018, thanks to increasing third-party sales.
Coolblue BV, which through its Coolblue brand became the largest internet retailer specialising primarily in consumer electronics, consumer appliances, and home and garden products, registered rapid growth in recent years and ranked second in internet retailing in 2018, behind bol.com.
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