Amazon EU’s Expansion Faces Stiff Competition

With the launch of Amazon.com.be last month, Amazon’s European business now covers a bloc of Northern European countries consisting of France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

Yet the popularity of the U.S. eCommerce giant is not evenly distributed across the bloc, and in Belgium and the Netherlands it is a relatively small player compared to its market dominance elsewhere.

For example, while Amazon takes the largest share of the eCommerce market in France and Germany, data from market intelligence firm ecommerceDB shows that it doesn’t even make the top five in the Netherlands or Belgium, where it competes with local contenders including Coolblue, Mediamarkt and Bol.com.

In fact, during a third-quarter (Q3) earnings presentation on Wednesday (Nov. 9), Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of Bol.com, said that the subsidiary had gained significant eCommerce market share in 2022, representing a 5.6% increase compared to the same period last year. Net consumer online sales generated by Bol.com also amounted to a significant €1.2 billion in the third quarter.

Related: Ahold Delhaize’s US Rewards Programs Drive $1.5B in Sales YTD

As Frans Muller, president and CEO of Ahold Delhaize said in a statement, “This was driven by double-digit growth in third-party partner network sales [supported by] the logistical strength of its new distribution facility, which opened earlier this year.”

Certainly, if the size of its warehouses are anything to go by, Bol.com’s strength in the Dutch market puts Ahold Delhaize in a good position to fend off the encroachment of Amazon’s vast logistics operations. The new 240,000-square-meter expansion Muller referred to dwarves Amazon’s only location in the country —  the 8,500-square-meter Schiphol delivery station.

Of course, Amazon also operates fulfillment centers in neighboring countries that it can use to serve Dutch customers, but in the Netherlands, it appears to lack the logistics infrastructure needed to offer same- or next-day Prime delivery to the same extent as it can elsewhere.

What’s more, although Amazon.nl does have more third-party sellers than the 50,000 listed on Bol.com’s platform, research carried out earlier this year suggests that just 2% of these merchants are based in the country. The data also suggests that the majority of Dutch Amazon sellers arrange their own delivery, rather than relying on Amazon fulfillment services.

Maximizing Logistics Productivity

In the past year, Bol.com has doubled down on its own offering following the launch of a dedicated logistics arm — Ampère.

Thanks to Ampère, Bol.com can collect packages from its sales partners in the morning and arrange for them to be delivered to customers on the same day.

And although Bol.com doesn’t offer free same-day delivery like Amazon Prime, Ahold Delhaize has been able to leverage another of its Dutch holdings to launch an in-store collection solution that costs just €1.99 per order. The “Pick Up Today” service allows customers to collect their orders from an Albert Heijn store in their area on the same day as long as they order before noon.

Related: Amazon to Raise Prime Subscription Price in Europe to Offset Inflation

As the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, Albert Heijn presents a readily available store network for Bol.com to use for its eCommerce distribution services, while another company in the retail group, Delhaize, has also enabled Bol.com to expand in-store collection across Belgium.

By generating additional footfall in Albert Heijn and Delhaize stores, the collect-in-store model can also help to drive further sales for Ahold Delhaize.

As PYMNTS has reported, the firm is also using its portfolio of European retail outlets to generate additional advertising revenue and diversify into the retail marketing space.

Read on: EU Retailers Leverage AdTech Innovations, Data to Deliver Tailored Customer Experiences

Last month, Ahold Delhaize acquired a minority stake in the Belgian AdTech startup Adhese, which will partner with Albert Heijn’s Media Services division to roll out new digital advertising opportunities across Europe.

 

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