If there was a jump in e-commerce in 2020, this growth was already declining in 2021, so that in 2022 the overall effect of the crisis in the development of e-business over 10 years was generally zero.
In fact, half of e-commerce consists of ticket sales (transport, accommodation, shows), which collapsed in 2020, while in 2022 the consumer resumed the habit of buying in-store and online, depending on circumstances.
A good plan?
E-commerce is still marginal in Belgium, now constituent about 10% of retail.
We all have the names of companies in mind that are valued at billions of dollars in the stock market. But locally it is not really an Eldorado: In Belgium, more than 90% of e-shops do not exceed 100,000 euros in sales. It is therefore difficult to be able to make a living from their e-shop alone. Even in 2021, which was a rather favorable year for online trading, one in five e-retailers ceased trading.
Many have engaged in a little improvisation in this area. Also, they don’t hold the dragee compared to those who have become highly professional. In fact, a handful of starters quickly took on very efficient operations and made the international breakthrough.
E-commerce, a lever for export
And this is where Belgium probably has the most catching up to do: the online trade balance is very negative. Belgians shop around 30% more in foreign e-shops than their counterparts. Our Dutch, German and French neighbors are gaining market share every day, not to mention the big non-European marketplaces.
It’s a little easy to blame wage costs and Belgian social regulations for the delay in e-commerce offerings in Belgium. Conversely, while the consumer has embraced the “connected commerce” approach, some dream of taking the country out of e-commerce, believing it poses a threat to local commerce. It looks like the fight against mass distribution in the 1960s-1970s. However, local e-commerce is a vein for growth, value and jobs.
There are effective strategies for positioning yourself alongside these “ogres”. However, they are not well known, since the actions taken by the authorities and professional organizations are often limited to raising awareness and discovering tools, while the challenges are hardly technological in nature. Efforts should continue to be made to equip business decision makers for e-commerce and online export.
A field survey revealed that a significant proportion of entrepreneurs later realize that they started off on the wrong foot. They regret having been ill-prepared, often focusing too much on the technical aspects and finally forgetting that selling online is above all about respecting the rules of commercial art: good commercial differentiation, procurement well negotiated, sale attractive, a well-groomed customer journey at an ergonomic level, empathy, good after-sales service and finally good management!
Being a trader has never meant an easy and lucrative job, but good preparation greatly increases the chances of success.