• Home
  • News
  • Retail
  • Online retail: The Dutch care about sustainability and trustworthiness

Online retail: The Dutch care about sustainability and trustworthiness

By Guest Contributor

2 Apr 2019


Is your online shop trusted by consumers? Does it have an environmentally friendly approach?

Today, trustworthiness and sustainability are keywords for consumers in choosing their preferred online shop. Dutch customers particularly adhere to this when shopping online. Recently, the Ecommerce Foundation conducted research in the Netherlands revealing interesting consumers trends preferring trustworthiness and environmentally friendly online shops!

All about Bol.com…

Retailers such as Bol.com, Albert Heijn, and Amazon are in the top 10 list in the Netherlands. However, although it may be hard to believe that Amazon lags behind in online shopping anywhere, it is nowhere near first place in the Netherlands! One of the main reason is that Amazon wanted to concentrate on bigger markets, rather than focusing on a relatively small country such as the Netherlands.

Bol.com is the oldest online retailer in the Netherlands, established by Bertelsmann in March 1999. The international headquarters is in Zaandam, in the province of North Holland. It had the opportunity to grow further and further, without having to deal with big competitors such as Amazon and eBay.

The main qualities of this Bol.com are:
· strong brand assets and
· the ability of evoking positive emotions among consumers.

Consumers of all age groups perceive a high trustworthiness feeling while purchasing on Bol.com, but younger consumers and men are the principal buyers. Additionally, women are more likely to switch to other retailers when checking specific categories, such as “fashion” and “beauty”. This is something that Bol.com should be aware of and take action on if they want to remain competitive in the ecommerce market. The supremacy of Bol.com in the online market is strengthened also by the payment method iDeal, which the Dutch are massive fans of!

What about Amazon?

Amazon is well-known around the world and is known to be a reliable marketplace with legitimate retailers. However, Amazon must be aware that Bol.com is firmly established within the hearts, minds, and wallets of Dutch consumers, particularly when it comes to perceived prices, trustworthiness and positive feelings.

Sustainability, packaging, and delivery processes are nowadays a hot-topic when ordering online and trying to follow a zero-waste path (something pretty trendy in the online space). Retailers typically have a section on their website explaining their policies, including return policies/procedures, as well as generally the terms & conditions of purchasing (have you thought to have one as well?). To be sure, this would enhance the interests of customers and increase conversion! In fact, more than half of 18-24-year-olds are willing to spend more for sustainable products.

In 2025, Bol.com hopes to be climate neutral. What does this mean? First of all, they have set a new focus of reducing their direct footprint to 0 grams of CO2 emission per ecommerce package! Moreover, Bol.com wants to achieve a 100 percent level of cardboard recycled or impact-loss in 2025.

Amazon has a quite similar goal, but its time span is longer. They set an ambitious goal to complete 50 percent of all Amazon shipments with net zero carbon by 2030. It is understandable that their size has influenced this objective, but a more “local” e-shop may find it more feasible to pursue this goal with a much sooner date.

Even though Amazon has a history of commitment to sustainability (Frustration Free Packaging; Ship in Own Container, as well as investment in the circular economy), its CO2 emissions would unlikely be equal to 0 because of cross-border shipments.

An interesting policy adopted by Bol.com is to expand the product information section to reduce overall returns (and therefore reduce waste). Customers having a greater understanding of the product they want to buy are more likely to make the right choice and therefore avoid returns.

More than 24 percent of Bol.com packages are delivered by bike or by foot (mostly in residential areas). When this is not feasible, it is possible to deliver using one of the 700 green gas vans available.

Both Amazon and Bol.com use wind energy, solar panels and reusable packaging to reduce their carbon footprint as much possible.

Improving packaging, adopting a more sustainable delivery process and relying on renewable energy will surely increase your conversion in your own webshop! By following the model set out by well-known and liked brands and marketplaces, smaller online stores can hope to compete with big ecommerce players like Amazon and Bol.com.

If you want to learn more about ecommerce in the Netherlands, you can read the light version of the newest Ecommerce Foundation Ecommerce Report: The Netherlands.

Photo: Bol.com

By Ludovica Quaglieri. The Ecommerce Foundation is an independent organization, initiated by worldwide national ecommerce associations, online- and omnichannel selling companies from industries such as retail, travel and finance. By combining collective goals and efforts, the Ecommerce Foundation is able to realize projects that could not be realized on an individual basis. We facilitate the development of practical knowledge, market insights andservices for which individual institutions, retail and ecommerce associations and B2C selling companies do not have the (financial) resources and/or capabilities for. We offer several services such as the EcommerceWiki, National Ecommerce Reports, Safe.Shop and Scamadviser in order to foster global digital trade.