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46% of Belgian SME retailers sell online

Although 92 percent of independent traders in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium are visible online, few of them also sell their products online. Recent research shows that 46 percent of retailers not only sell offline, but also online. Retailers that don’t sell online mostly say it’s because of a lack of time or knowledge.

The results are from a survey by the Organisation for the Self-Employed and SMEs (Unizo) among almost 500 sole traders and companies. It shows that the share of retailers that are visible online is increasing for years now, while the share of those who also sell online has remained quite the same the last two years.

Reasons to not sell online

Traders who aren’t active in the ecommerce industry, mostly say it’s because of a lack of time and knowledge (said by 40 percent). Also the fact their product isn’t suitable for online selling is another popular reason (36 percent) that prevents companies to sell online. Other reasons are the high cost price (mentioned by 23 percent), the fierce price competition online (22 percent) and the fact they simply see no advantage in selling online (18 percent).

A quarter sells online through marketplaces

Among the retailers that do sell online, there are different ways to achieve this. For example, 69 percent sells online through email or a website (without any direct pay option), while the same percentage sells through their own online store. And 44 percent is active with ecommerce through social media, while 26 percent sells online using online marketplaces such as eBay or Bol.com.

Many tailor-made online stores

Almost two in three respondents that sell through their own online store, has had this store tailor-made for them, while 27 percent used existing ecommerce software to open their online store. And 80 percent of all online shops in Belgium is made for website visits coming from mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones.

According to Unizo, one of the more remarkable conclusions from the study is that only 30 percent of online sellers has linked their online sales channel to their stock management or physical checkout system. “There’s plenty of room for improvement on this on, and smart digitization could help these retailers”, Unizo writes.

Another interesting finding is that 56 percent of online retailers surveyed have less than ten online orders per month. A quarter processes between 11 and 50 online orders, while 18 percent does over 50 orders per month.

Over half think their online revenue will increase

For four out of ten online sellers ecommerce accounts for between 1 and 10 percent of their total sales. And for one out of three ecommerce is even something that cost them money instead of generating income. Nonetheless, many Belgian retailers are positive about ecommerce: 78 percent say they want to further combine their online and offline sales channels next years. And 53 percent thinks their online revenue will increase in 2019.

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