Online sales in Belgium up by 46%

Last year, 989 million euros’ worth of goods have been sold via the Internet, which represents an increase of no less than 46% compared to 2006. This information was communicated by BeCommerce, which represents online and offline (direct mail, catalogues, etc.) distance selling companies. A total of 1.15 milliard euros was sold through distance selling, of which 86% corresponds to online sales. A growth of 25% is expected for 2008, despite the generally stagnant economic situation.

Therefore, the number of web shops keeps increasing: at the end of 2007, 2,100 active web shops were registered in our country and by the end of 2008, it is expected that there will be 3,100. This doesn’t only apply to companies that are exclusively active on the Internet; real stores also increasingly understand that their presence on the web is required.

To whom do these web stores sell their goods? 40% of them limit their area of sales to Belgium, 32% sell in the whole of Europe and 29% sell worldwide. The average purchase amount is certainly not insignificant: 19% of purchase amounts range from 31 to 50 euros, 28% range from 51 to 100 euros, 16% range from 101 to 200 euros and 25% even range from 201 to 500 euros!

How do people pay? There is a marked difference between “pure players” (those who only own an online store) and combined stores (real store plus online shop). With pure players, 67% of payments are performed online (51% for the entire distance selling sector), 26% are performed via transfer before delivery (7% for the entire sector), 15% are performed cash upon delivery (20%) and 3% are performed via transfer after delivery (22%).

All these web shops are also a good thing for employment, although many of them work with few employees: 82% of distance selling companies employ between 1 and 20 people. However, there are also some larger companies that employ more than 500 people. The entire distance selling sector directly provides work to 32.500 people.

Nevertheless, the sector has two complaints. Firstly about a quality label that is given out by an independent organization and that is supposed to guarantee that visitors can shop safely at certified web shops. Secondly about the abolition of the legal bargain sales periods, which disfavours Belgian e-merchants with respect to their competitors abroad, for during 3 months a year, Belgian e-merchants cannot announce rebates on their websites.

What about you? Do you already own a web shop?