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64% of Belgians shopped online last year

Slightly more than 7 million Belgian shopped online last year, which means 64% of the population has ordered something via the Internet in 2014. Of all these shoppers, 440.000 Belgians ordered something online for the first time ever.

This is evident from a study done by Comeos, the Belgian federation for commerce and services. It also shows in the Western European country there are now 4% more online shoppers compared to last year, when 6.6 million people ordered products and goods online. One out of five online consumers bought something using their smartphone or tablet.

Average spend per month: €153
“People shop online more often”, says Dominique Michel, CEO of Comeos. “64% of them shop online at least once every two months. However, they spend less than they did last year. Now it’s on average 153 euros per month”, he says. “It’s still clothing and shoes that are popular products to shop via the Internet, but the food sector is growing. There are still few people who buy such products online (9%), but if they do, they do it more frequently (40% does it at least five times per year) and they expect to do it even more so in the future (44%).”

Ecommerce boosts physical retail
According to the retail association the study suggests that online stores could boost brick-and-mortar stores. “Almost one in four customers first takes a look in the physical store and then goes buying it online. But on the other hand, 45% of the respondents do some research on the Internet beforehand and then go buying the product in-store. So, they are mutually-reinforcing, cannibalization is limited”, Michel says.

Belgians seem to think time-saving is the most important reason for shopping online instead of offline. It’s getting more important than the price. But, the price of products is still decisive when it comes to choosing the right online store to shop from.

Barriers to mobile shopping
The study shows that 21% of the online shoppers in Belgium has done some purchases using their mobile devices; however, just 2.5% shops online by exclusively using their smartphone. “If we want to have a real breakthrough of mobile shopping, we need to battle the existing barriers: the screens are still too small, there’s a lack of trust and it’s not always easy completing an order via a mobile device”, Michel explains. Nonetheless, the customer’s trust in ecommerce keeps being stable (60%), while the satisfaction increases (+2%).

Challenges for Belgian ecommerce industry
Michel thinks the internet penetration rate in Belgium should increase if it wants to have substantial growth in ecommerce. “Our rate (84.7%) is the lowest of all neighbouring countries. We still need to have a reliable payment platform, especially with the rise of shopping via smartphone and tablet. Also, there’s a need for having a point of contact for cyber security, that can act quick when issues arise. With online retailing growing to become a mass consumption model, supply problems increase (+6%) which shows us we need a more professional logistics sector. Consumers want their products to be delivered 24/7. It’s our challenge to make such things happen.”

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