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Monthly Market Spotlight: The Netherlands

Posted 27 October 2021

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Home to Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam, and at one time, operating colonial outposts across the globe, the Netherlands is now more well known for its exports in tulips and mild cheeses.

Trade and innovation flow naturally through Holland’s veins and casting stereotypes to one side, the area has become synonymous with high-tech enterprises in cutting edge fields such as Fintech and commercial software development.

Read on to find out more about this established market and how you can get a foothold in this European hub of commerce.

The Netherlands: Key market data

Driving a revenue of approximately $19 billion in 2020, Holland’s e-commerce market is currently the 16th largest in the world, placing it just ahead of Brazil and Mexico.

Forecasted growth is set to slow down to 7% year-on-year for the next 5 years, down from 28% in 2019 – 2020, indicating a somewhat saturated market dominated by large players.

Fashion is the most popular sector for online shopping in this market, taking a 31% share of online purchases. This is followed by Electronics & Media (23%), toys, hobby & DIY (20%), furniture & appliances (15%) and food & personal care (11%.)

Digital Marketing in the Netherlands

As of January 2021, there were 16.47 million internet users in the Netherlands equating to an Internet penetration rate of 96%, making it one of the most connected countries on the planet.

There were 17.01 million mobile connections in the region at this time, equivalent to 99.2% of the total population – unlike many other markets where users have multiple mobile devices.

Google is the dominant search engine in the Netherlands with a current 94.8% market share of search engine use, followed by Bing (2.5%), the privacy-centric DuckDuckGo (1.01%), Yahoo! (0.73%), Yandex (0.41%) and the eco-conscious search engine Ecosia (0.32%). As environmental issues are a major topic of conversion for the Dutch, it is likely Ecosia will become more popular as time goes on.

Search Engine Optimisation

SEO tactics will remain the same for this market as with English speaking markets – following best practices and leveraging a localised website with unique, Dutch-specific content, will greatly improve your chances of success in this competitive market. Ensure link building efforts are localised too, as backlinks from Dutch domains will be needed to dominate the SERPs here.

As is the case for most e-commerce ventures, using a local domain will help to improve your conversion rate significantly. The TLD for The Netherlands is .nl.

Social media

88% per cent of the population in the Netherlands use social media regularly – as of January 2021, there were 15.1 million users. This figure has remained static between 2020 to 2021.

WhatsApp is by far the most popular platform in use in The Netherlands, followed by Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. In 2021, LinkedIn has been especially popular with millennials, a strong indicator of how important the platform is for recruitment and maintaining business relationships in this market.

Pay Per Click

As with all markets where the Google and Facebook platforms are in popular use, Pay Per Click is a viable and effective way to target new customers in the Netherlands. As competition is fierce here, expect a higher-than-average cost per click though, so make sure this is factored in when estimating your cost per acquisition (CPA).

Email marketing

The Netherlands experiences one of the highest average click through rates in Europe at 30.35%, placing it just behind France, Italy and Belgium. Spam rates are also low in this market at 0.01%, which means the Dutch are used to receiving highly relevant promotional material.

There is a large community of affiliate and performance marketing specialists in the Netherlands making this advertising channel particularly profitable when collaborating with a good in-market specialist.

Legal Requirements

As an EU member state, GDPR regulations must be adhered to – failure to do so can result in large fines and serious legal action.

The Netherlands also maintains its own laws, laid out in books 6 and 7 of the Dutch Civil Code which regulate sales transactions including distance selling such as e-commerce, phone and fax.

Certain information must be included on your website to be compliant in this market, including company identification number, address, your Chamber of Commerce number, payment and delivery details.

Conversion rate optimisation

Website domain

Using a .nl domain can help to create trust around your brand for the Dutch market. As an international community, however, there tend to be fewer concerns surrounding the domain of a website, and English proficiency is high in this market.

Website Design

Simplicity and conceptual working are the characteristics often found in modern Dutch websites. Bold, primary colours are prevalent, and form and function should go hand in hand. Fussiness is looked down upon.

Typography is also an important factor, and the Dutch have been known for some of the world’s best typographers, such as Gerard Unger, Martin Majoor and Jos Buivenga. Pay attention to this often-overlooked element of web design, as many Dutch consumers will be!

Contact the ALM team today if you’d like to find out how to localise for success in the Netherlands.


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