As I was reading and hearing about Jeff Bezos and his immense wealth last week, one thought that popped into my mind was: “well, he certainly didn’t make that money from Dutchies.”
Now, I’ve lived in the Netherlands for less than three years so if any Dutch person wants to contribute to this blog post in the comments or simply say I’m wrong — you’re very welcome to.
From what I’ve gathered, however, Dutch people and Bezos aren’t exactly BFFs. Oliver Daemen, the 18-year-old from Tilburg who went to space with Bezos may be the exception, though even he told Bezos “like, I’ve actually never bought something from Amazon.”
Where else do you get stuff online?
Amazon has had offices in the Netherlands since 2015 (fun fact, one of them is located right next to where I live in The Hague) but didn’t open a Dutch version of its website until 2020.
The interesting thing is that even though Amazon had impeccable timing by opening their Dutch website in March 2020 (I mean, when has the world ever seen more online shopping sprees fuelled by pandemic-induced cabin fever?), the site can’t manage to compete with Bol.com.
Talking about website visits, Bol was the most visited marketplace in June 2021, raking in 22,6% of desktop visits, whereas the Dutch Amazon only received 6,6% of visits. This places Amazon.nl as the third most visited online Dutch marketplace in that month.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any sales statistics available specifically for June 2021 but, turning the clock back to 2020, we can see that Amazon.nl was not third when it came to sales. It was way, way lower in ranking.
The graph above shows that Amazon was the eighth biggest e-commerce market in the Netherlands in 2020 based on its net sales. Bol.com was in the top together with Coolblue and Albert Heijn — making four times the profit of Amazon.nl.
The answer: Bol.com
So, why isn’t Amazon a big deal in the Netherlands? Because Bol.com is the go-to website for online shopping.
I couldn’t find any specific information as to what makes Bol.com so popular compared to Amazon but I did find it interesting that Amazon considered buying Bol.com in 2002. The purchase didn’t happen and a joint venture of German shareholders took bought the site instead.
At least from 2012, when the company was acquired by Ahold (now Ahold-Delhaize), the site’s revenue has increased every year.
So, even when Amazon was to launch its Dutch website in 2020, the board of Ahold-Delhaize wasn’t concerned about Bol.com’s future. Back then, the chairman said about Amazon that “They already serve the Netherlands from the German market. It’s not a new phenomenon.”
And it seems they were right in their predictions.
Rounding up this blog post, it would be interesting to know more about Dutch peoples’ sentiments towards Amazon compared to Bol.com. However, it has been fun to see that Amazon isn’t the number one online retailer everywhere —and that Bezos isn’t taking over the world just yet.