For the third time in a row, InSites Consulting and Comeos present their annual report on Belgian e-commerce, focusing on the main trends and future developments, among 1.062 Belgians (representative on region, gender and age). Results of the study have been presented by Pieter De Vuyst, Senior Research Manager, and Laurence Bloquiaux, Research Consultant, at the Comeos E-commerce event on the 14th of June.
The late majority is convinced by e-commerce
The Belgian e-commerce is on the rise, putting pressure on traditional channels and retail points. For the first time, more than half (57%) of the Belgian population (or 75% of the online population) has bought at least 1 new product / service via the internet for personal purposes.
Research has shown that e-commerce is no longer the field of youngsters only. Today, elderly (60+) are buying products and services online as well. Crossing the boundaries of age, e-commerce has taken the next step in convincing the late majority.The rise in e-commerce experience goes along with higher investments, more frequent purchases and both new as well as replacement purchases.
Whereas experience related products and services (e.g. tickets for events, hotel bookings, etc.) have been dominating the category since the start, fashion related products (e.g. shoes, clothes, etc.) and food (e.g. supermarket, catering services, etc.) are driving the growth of e-commerce. The former because more Belgians are buying online, the latter because existing customers buy it more often.
Trustworthiness is a necessity, price becomes an important differentiator
To stimulate growth in the future, Belgian e-commerce will need to take into account 2 hurdles. First, today’s consumers are critical and a flawless process (from process to deliver) is needed to boost confidence in the online channel. In 2013, 1 out of 10 online buyers have experienced some kind of fraud. Conscious faulty information (25%) and problems with return shipment (20%) are occurring a lot more compared to 2012 (17% and 7% respectively).
While trustworthiness of websites is the base of future growth, price is an important driver and differentiator. For the first time, price has become the number 1 reason to buy products / services online. For almost 1 out of 2 (43%), lower prices is one of the most important reasons to buy via the internet, which is an absolute increase of 6% compared to 2012. Ability to enjoy special discounts and promotions is becoming increasingly important as well (2013: 34%, 2012: 31%). Benefits related to time & convenience (e.g. home delivery, 24/7, etc.) and aspects that smoothen the purchase process (e.g. ease of finding information, comparing reviews, etc.) drive e-commerce to a smaller extent compared to previous years.