The American web giant Amazon opened its Dutch web store on Tuesday morning. The site allows Dutch consumers to order more than a hundred million products, more than four times as much as at bol.com – the largest online store in the Netherlands. A subscription to Prime – Amazon’s service for free delivery and access to the video service of the same name – will cost 2.99 euros per month.
That is what Amazons head European expansion Alex Ootes and Roeland Donker, responsible for Amazon Netherlands, say in conversation with NRC. “We start modestly,” says Ootes. “In time, Amazon wants to be in the Netherlands to the American size.” In other words: an online store with ‘hundreds of millions’ of products: Amazon never gives specific figures.
The launch of the web store also means that Dutch entrepreneurs can sell their products through Amazon throughout Europe. According to Amazon, “several thousand” Dutch entrepreneurs have now joined the store. Bol.com, which offers the same service, has 27,000 affiliated entrepreneurs.
The Netherlands is the sixth country in Europe where Amazon opens its own webshop – with local entrepreneurs, local customer service and a local assortment. The distribution of goods for the Netherlands is run from Amazon’s distribution center in Mönchengladbach, just across the German border.
Since 2017, Dutch consumers have been able to place orders at the German Amazon webshop. Since then, Amazon has been preparing for the move to the Dutch market, including by expanding its Dutch headquarters in Amsterdam. At the end of this year, four hundred people are employed; Amazon now has 85 vacancies.
More about the arrival of Amazon. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the arrival of the largest online store in the world?
“The Everything Store”
With a market capitalization of around one thousand billion dollars, Amazon is one of the world’s most valuable companies. The company of the American internet entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, the richest person on earth, has 300 million customers, 800,000 employees and branches in more than a hundred countries, including India, Australia, Spain and China.
Amazon’s strategy, started in 1995 as an online bookstore, is to be the most important place where consumers go to make purchases anywhere in the world – whether it’s groceries, hot meals, medicines or books.
Amazon is first and foremost a tech company: it analyzes data to gain the best possible insight into what consumers need. “In five years we will no longer have to think about whether we need toilet paper or bleach. Amazon already knows that and delivers it to home before it is finished, ”says retail expert Natalie Berg – author of a book about Amazon published last year. “That’s them end game. ”
Also read the column from Marc Hijink: What does Amazon want to know about you? Everything
That obsession with data leads to criticism from privacy organizations including the Dutch Bits of Freedom – worried that the company knows too much about citizens. Amazon is also currently located under fire by a small part of the staff, who think that the company should do its best to make it more sustainable.
What will the arrival of Amazon mean for the Netherlands? Wijnand Jongen, director of industry association Thuiswinkel.org, expects the arrival of Amazon to be a “driver” for further growth of online shopping in the Netherlands.
In the past five years, this market has experienced double growth figures every year. The Dutch now spend about half a billion euros every quarter at European web stores, the Central Bureau of Statistics made recently announced. In the Netherlands, one in ten purchases is made online. “Amazon makes the competition fiercer,” says Jongen. “Both online and in the physical shopping street.”
That is good news for consumers, he thinks. “It will lead to innovation,” says Jongen. “That makes the playing field more interesting and that is always good for the consumer.”
The Everything Store, as Amazon is also called, is a company that acts as a “catalyst for change” in countries where it is launched, retail expert Natalie Berg says. It is responsible for what Berg calls “retail Darwinism.” “Amazon has crushed retail chains that refused to change.”
Through a combination of data, scale and focus on customer satisfaction, the company can offer a service level that is difficult to match for competitors. “Amazon is unbeatable in their own territory,” says Berg. “There are opportunities for competitors who concentrate on what Amazon does not do. The physical experience of a store, being present in local communities, the pleasure of shopping. ”
Bol.com says it “doesn’t look at Amazon differently than other players,” a spokesperson said. “We focus on how we can make the daily life of customers as easy as possible, with a lot of attention for local wishes, needs and an eye for people and the environment.” Webshops Coolblue and Wehkamp did not respond to a request for comment.
Jongen thinks that the Dutch web stores are “perfectly positioned” to be able to handle Amazon. The hits will, again, fall in the shopping street, he thinks. “Somewhere it’s going to hurt. With the parties that do nothing. ”