What Amazon's Launch in Belgium Really Means PC Trends

What Amazon’s Launch in Belgium Really Means PC Trends

In a few months, the firm of Jeff Bezos will roll out its online sales platform on the Belgian market. An arrival that we no longer really expected since customers and traders from the flat country are obviously already active on Amazon, but which responds to a strategic logic.

The global e-commerce giant has finally set its sights on our market. Jeff Bezos’ firm plans to launch a Belgian version of its platform: amazon.com.be. The announcement fell discreetly at the beginning of August through a press release, but also through communication with traders. The information is surprising since for years Belgians, both customers and sellers, have been able to order on Amazon or use the platform to develop their own business. Does the creation of a Belgian version of the largest e-commerce site change anything? Why does this eminent member of Gafam decide to make the flat country the 21st to have a specific platform? Answer and analysis in four points.

The global e-commerce giant has finally set its sights on our market. Jeff Bezos’ firm plans to launch a Belgian version of its platform: amazon.com.be. The announcement fell discreetly at the beginning of August through a press release, but also through communication with traders. The information is surprising since for years Belgians, both customers and sellers, have been able to order on Amazon or use the platform to develop their own business. Does the creation of a Belgian version of the largest e-commerce site change anything? Why does this eminent member of Gafam decide to make the flat country the 21st to have a specific platform? Answer and analysis in four points. If the Belgians already massively use the site of the net giant, it is through the platforms of neighboring countries. Since 2003, French speakers have been able to order on Amazon.fr and Dutch speakers have started to buy via the “.de” before being able, since 2016, to shop on the Dutch version. In addition, the e-commerce site has multiplied partnerships with carriers in our country for years. But all controlled remotely, without any real physical presence. In Belgium, Amazon only has a legal entity for its cloud space activity and data services that it sells to businesses. About a hundred people would work for us through various Belgian structures linked to this specific sector. What the e-commerce firm is now announcing is the launch of a platform expressly dedicated to Belgium: a bilingual version, offering products that will all be available and deliverable to us, and to which will probably be integrated local means of payment. A way, according to the company, to improve the user experience of those who still have to go through a foreign version and cannot always have everything delivered. Today, the firm is therefore in seduction mode for traders. The idea is to encourage regular sellers on Amazon to add Belgium to their catchment area. And to attract new ones. Objective? Boost product supply and availability. “With this launch, sellers will psychologically have the feeling of covering an additional territory, deciphers Stephan Pire, founder of the analysis office LR Physics, specialist in e-commerce. Admittedly, they were already present in Belgium, but they did not really have a lot of clear information on the operations carried out with us. The arrival of Amazon Belgium could allow them to optimize paid marketing on the national market. Finally, the Belgian focus of Amazon could attract a little more people on the platform and boost sales for merchants. We can hope for an increase of 10%, or even 20%, in the long term.” Sellers who trade through the platform but provide the logistics of their products themselves will have to adjust their shipping method to the flat country. As for merchants who use Amazon for logistics (Fulfillment by Amazon program), they will continue to send their products to the giant’s foreign warehouses. Either, for those who used Amazon.fr, towards the north of France… No new storage space is indeed planned with us. And the opening of a warehouse in Antwerp, announced for the next few months, will not change this situation: it will be a redistribution center. Even if Amazon has a high popularity rating, Belgium is certainly not its easiest market. Especially in the north of the country where competition is strong and where only one in two Flemings have already ordered on their platform. For Damien Jacob, founder of the Retis firm specializing in e-commerce, the arrival of a site specifically devoted to Belgian customers is part of a very particular context: “The firm probably realizes that on the Benelux market, Bol takes market shares which are becoming significant in Flanders, at the same time as this platform is gradually attacking the French-speaking market.” Not to mention Coolblue, which is also developing strongly on the Belgian market. Countering these two competitors of Dutch origin was already one of the objectives of Amazon’s offensive when the giant launched its “.nl” platform. Reacting to the Belgian growth of these players is undoubtedly part of the same strategy. In addition, for Amazon, it is a question of proving that it is indeed the best of the platforms where certain competitors are trying, in their marketing, to impose their superiority. With a Belgian site and improved delivery, Amazon seems to want to regain the advantage… The subject is sensitive for all Gafam, who have made tax optimization one of their specialties. Today, Amazon does not pay tax on its online sales activities in Belgium for the good and simple reason that the company does not have any entity in this area. Nothing illegal: everything goes through other structures, created in other European countries. And despite its intention to launch a Belgian version of its site, the firm will not establish a new legal entity with us, although it is in the process of setting up a specific team: a country manager and new commitments are planned. But that does not mean that Amazon’s activity absolutely does not benefit state revenues. On products sold in Belgium, VAT is still due…

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