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Amazon goes Double Dutch

By Chris Dawson January 23, 2020 - 12:00 pm

Eduard GerritseneCommeleon are the first ecommerce partner to announce support for Amazon’s new Dutch marketplace in the Netherlands and they’ve identified some challenges for online retailers looking to adopt the platform. It’s not all plain sailing as co-founder Eduard Gerritsen explains – some things have been lost in translation and in this case the phrase Double Dutch really does apply!

eCommeleon help retailers prepare their product data by providing you with one simple process to create listings for all sales channels based on the most up-to-date marketplace specifics. To find out more about their pioneering marketplace validation software or to sign up for a free trial, visit their website or contact eCommeleon today.

Amazon goes Double Dutch

Touted for years as one of the most interesting ecommerce markets in Europe, Amazon has finally opened the doors of its latest European marketplace. It’s been rumoured for a while that Amazon has been contacting retailers about this, but now anyone with an Amazon EU account can apply to sell on Amazon NL. As with Amazon’s previous expansions, this provides an exciting opportunity to expand into a new market without too steep a learning curve.

Having worked closely on eCommeleon’s latest integration with the new Amazon NL sales channel, and as a Dutchman who has lived in Germany and worked on the front-line in ecommerce during Amazon’s growth across Europe, I’d like to share my insight; of both the Dutch ecommerce market and what retailers may need to watch out for when taking advantage of this new opportunity.

Ecommerce in the Netherlands

Having analysed 250 retailers in the Netherlands, Twinkle100 observed a combined turnover of €11.8b in 2018. With 101 companies generating more than €20m turnover, the market is more diverse than many other Amazon-prominent markets whereby a handful of retailers would dominate this end of the scale. The largest ecommerce website in the Netherlands, with a market share of 13.9% (€1.64b), is the popular Dutch marketplace bol.com. In second place is the retailer Coolblue with >€1b turnover.

Albert Heijn (the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, and part of the same family as bol.com), Zalando and Wehkamp, each with a little more than €0.5b, take up spots 3-5. Amazon already comes in at number 6 (€350m), despite not being open to third party retailers, selling instead to the Netherlands from their other European facilities.

Marketplaces will become dominant

The Dutch bank ING forecasts that by 2025 75% of all online retail products will be sold through marketplaces and more than half of these sales will be covered by one or two platforms. Amazon has already become a large player in the Dutch ecommerce market, despite only targeting the country with limited resources so far. With moves afoot for Amazon to stir up yet another ecommerce market, it seems to be a safe bet that they will become one of the dominant parties in this arena.

Your advantage

As few Dutch retailers are familiar with selling on Amazon, many still underestimate the likely impact of Amazon’s full entry to the market. Furthermore, the Dutch are not yet familiar with a channel in their domestic market upon which success so heavily hinges upon factors such as performance statistics, Amazon Sponsored Ads or competing for a Buy Box. When you mix in the importance of optimising listings for Amazon to improve searchability and having to spend hours dealing with listing errors and seller support, this suddenly becomes a particularly interesting opportunity for experienced Amazon sellers.

Amazon are likely to begin investing heavily in marketing their latest launch, so it won’t be a surprise to see Dutch consumers – many of whom have waited a long time for a domestic version of the already-prevalent channel – accepting Amazon as an additional option with a larger product range than they’re used to. Getting in early and riding this marketing wave is a sure-fire way to not only generate some extra revenue, but also to begin building up your ratings in this new market before the competition jumps on board as well.

Compared to their often-conservative German neighbours, Dutch consumers and retailers tend to adapt quickly when they find a better deal. With this in mind, I expect the development of Amazon to be fast, so the opportunity to get a head start might not last long; now is time to act.

Amazon have gone Double Dutch

Despite sitting comfortably within the top-10 of Dutch ecommerce sites, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Amazon as they bolster their presence in this market. The ecommerce giant must work on its PR if they expect to win over the average Dutch consumer, with recent research showing Dutch consumers consider Amazon to not only be the most expensive marketplace, but believe it also offfes a worse shopping experience compared to its biggest competitors. Nevertheless, experts in the Netherlands anticipate the main fight for market share will be between bol.com and Amazon in the coming years.

As we integrated Amazon’s latest channel into eCommeleon to allow our users to prepare product listings for this next expansion opportunity, we found that Amazon is not taking steps to improve their sensitivity towards different languages, opting apparently to create their Dutch valid values with poor quality translations instead. Despite being quite entertaining for Dutch consumers, many of the attributes that Amazon would like retailers to use will certainly not provide many hits in even the most popular categories. Trying to market a bra, for example, with special features such as “without cables”, “full mug”, “dive” or “building balcony” might raise a few eyebrows, but certainly not your bottom line.

In this case, no harm (besides a good laugh) will be caused by choosing these values. If you opt to take Amazon’s poorly localised weight measure for lb to “Pond” however, a Dutch purchaser expecting to receive exactly 500 grams might be left somewhat disappointed. Depending on what you’re selling, this sort of blunder could lead to many unhappy customers, sinking your new ship before it’s even set sail.

Amazon’s small step

Of course, you can wait for Amazon to go through these teething pains alone, but then you risk missing out on the opportunity that Amazon is offering ; getting in early on a marketplace and building your ratings whilst others hang back could well pay dividends as the decade progresses.

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