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Business Development Director
How do you foresee the future of Dutch logistics/warehousing with regards to Brexit impacts?
A few years ago, bol.com started ‘Verkopen via bol.com’, a selling platform allowing retailers to sell their products and be closely followed by post-payment at bol.com. The 19.000 entrepreneurs who use the platform benefit from bol.com marketing power, warehousing services, delivery network (including same-day, evening and Sunday delivery), return management and customer care operations. As a market leader, bol.com knows an extensive amount about selling online in the Dutch and Belgium markets. Like many other countries, consumer reviews are essential to selling successfully online.
iDEAL is the most used payment method and next day delivery is a crucial success factor as well. We see an increase in sales of 25% if you can deliver the next day. The Dutch also have a few special gifting holidays like Sinterklaas (not to be confused with Santa Clause). Your local approach is key to being successful and would be likely to make a difference for customers.
Both small as well as big retailers use bol.com to enter the Dutch and Belgium markets. For example, AO (formally Appliances Online), a large UK online retailer launched in the Netherlands both with its own web shop as well as on bol.com. From our own experiences in expanding to Belgium, if you want to become successful in a foreign market, you need a team up until midnight, or a marketplace partner to replace your own team on the ground.”
What would the potential impacts on global trade (including ecommerce)?
Overall, the impact outside the EU is likely to be limited, although some firms (for example Japanese car firms with major UK operations) may be adversely affected. UK e-commerce companies may find it more difficult to operate in the EU and vice-versa, although it will depend very much on the regulatory regime in each sector.
What are the main challenges/considerations for SMEs whose clients order internationally and/or domestically?
Customer Experience will be key in the future for successful online business in Spain, as well as abroad. Fast international delivery, free shipping, free returns are key factors for a better conversion rate and growth, and Spanish retailers realize that.
Another challenge SMEs have to face is that portals as Amazon will get bigger and bigger in this country. On a product level, Amazon is almost replacing Google as a search engine here in Spain. This means SMEs will more and more search for these extra channels to sell on.
See the full version of this interview in our 2018 Spain Ecommerce Report
What is your vision of the physical store in relation to Ecommerce? Will trends such as ‘showrooming’ grow? Or do you believe that this relationship for the consumer fundamentally change in the future?
We’re going through a very exciting time, which sees the radical and rapid transformation of the retail industry worldwide, but China’s dynamic and unique ecommerce market offers a glimpse into how the future of commerce might look like, globally. This is driven, among other factors, by the surge of a new consumer type: younger, internationally oriented, tech-savvy and mobile-driven, and seeking high quality, original foreign products.
Alibaba Group has been a pioneer in this sense, and since 2015 we have been responding to the changing retail world by blending the online and offline spheres to create seamless brand and customer experience. This is the strategy we have introduced as “New Retail”. New Retail sees ecommerce and physical retail work together with the ultimate aim of creating deeper brand engagement and better shopping experiences for consumers.
In China, ecommerce currently accounts for approximately 18% of total retail and through New Retail we want to bring our data and technological capability to work with and digitally transform the remaining 82% of retail that is offline. This isn’t to get into the bricks-and-mortar retail business, but rather to empower bricks-and-mortar operators to restructure and enhance their operations, including customer experience, inventory management, logistics and retail spaces, to enable them to succeed in the digital era.
New Retail is completely redefining commerce in China and it is a game-changer for Alibaba and retail in the country. We are anticipating a reimagined retail industry driven by the integration of offline, online, logistics, logistics and data across a single value chain, coupled with social media, interactive content and entertainment on one platform. This changing landscape has made it necessary for brands to rethink their strategies to engage with their consumers, with data technology representing a crucial part of the equation. There are already thousands of European and international companies on our platforms that are successfully implementing their New Retail strategy. Ultimately, we believe this will result in better consumer experience and greater profits for the retailer.
''We started in the Netherlands, expanded to Belgium and Germany and now also sell in China. Ecommerce is becoming global, faster than we think. A global trustmark belongs to global expansion.''- GeertJan Smits, Managing Director Flinders