In 2017, Belgian consumers spent eight billion euros abroad, including 5.5 billion in webshops. As recently as 2012, the figure was only half a billion. Because of the cross-border spending, the turnover of Belgium's on-line retailers is declining. Last year, the total value of sales by Belgian webshops was actually lower than in the crisis year 2010. Despite the fact that the Belgian public's spending power increased by 1.5 per cent.
Neighbours are grabbing the trade
It looks as if Belgian webshops have missed the boat. In neighbouring Germany and the Netherlands, retailers' on-line and off-line turnover is rising, buoyed by the economic upturn. Belgian clothes shops and supermarkets have seen the biggest decline.
Dutch webshops seize their opportunitys
Comeos CEO Dominique Michel puts the findings down to underdevelopment of Belgium's e-commerce sector: "Dutch webshops are taking the trade. They started buying .be domain names years ago. And now we're feeling the effect."
A matter of trust
Our Marketing Manager Michiel Henneke acknowledges the point about .be domain names: "Our latest survey of trends in internet use showed that, when it comes to winning consumer trust, having a local country-code domain often counts for more than where you are actually based. We see that in the Netherlands as well. Although the vast majority of Dutch people prefer to click on a .nl domain, an increasing number don't mind if the company is in another country. In other words, a local domain name lowers the threshold to doing business with a foreign company.".
"A country-code domain has another big advantage," adds Michiel. "If you have the country-code for the country where you're trading, search engines rank you higher. That advantage is reinforced by users selecting search results with local domain names. Consequently, the user-relevance of a local domain name increases faster than that of an otherwise similar name with a different extension. A higher search engine ranking ultimately translates into more trade."
Our research report Trends in Internet Use 2018 appeared on 29 November. The English version of the report isn't yet available. If you'd like us to e-mail you a copy when it's ready, mail 'trend report' to firstname.lastname@example.org.