Voice of the Industry

Why Belgium is Europe's best hidden ecommerce secret

Wednesday 11 May 2022 10:41 CET | Editor: Irina Ionescu | Voice of the industry

Jose Martinez-Benavente from PPRO analyses the particularities of Belgium’s ecommerce market and highlights the positive aspects that could draw more merchants to do business in this Western European country

Belgium’s ecommerce market is currently worth over USD 25 billion1. It will be worth nearly USD 40 billion in three years, which is translated into a growth rate of over 33%. 

An ecommerce merchant searching for lucrative new markets should look closely at Western Europe. At the last count, ecommerce in the region was worth USD 768 billion — that’s four times the combined2 value of the ecommerce sectors in Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. And the region’s ecommerce market is growing at a rate of 12% per year3. Online purchases are already 18% of all retail — and that’s a figure that’s only predicted to grow in the foreseeable future3. By any reckoning, that’s a huge field of opportunity. But even in that context, Belgium is special. 

The growth opportunity in Belgium

In 2021, during the height of the pandemic, the country’s digital sector grew by a massive 33%3. In the same year, the number of online stores in the country increased by 18%, reaching a total of 56,642, while Belgians placed a massive of 150 million online orders4.

Even these startling statistics fail to capture the full extent of the retail transformation happening in Belgium, as some sectors are growing even faster than the overall average. The online grocery sector is expanding at a rate of 51% a year5, while the fastest-growing online stores are expanding at an astonishing rate of over 140% per year6.

To succeed in this dynamic and promising market, merchants must identify and focus on Belgians' payment preferences. Failure to offer customers a way to pay that they are familiar with, and they can trust, may lead to cart abandonment rates of up to 20%7

Localising payments is just as important as localising language

At first glance, Belgium’s payment preferences seem quite conventional. Almost half of online shoppers use cards to pay for their ecommerce purchases1. But that still leaves shoppers paying for a little over 50% of online commerce — worth an approximate USD 8 billion — with other payment methods. These include bank transfers (19%), e-wallets (14%), and a range of other smaller methods (14%)1. Four percent even pay for online purchases using cash1

Only by supporting the full range of preferred payment methods in the market, can merchants and service providers who work with them hope to win the trust and acceptance of Belgian consumers. 

Popular payment methods in Belgium 

Chief among these payment methods is the e-wallet Payconiq. Consumers link the wallet to their normal bank account and then use it as a convenient and safe way to pay both on and offline. Belgians use it to make 1.2 million transactions a month8. Another highly popular e-wallet is Bancontact, the local payment card offered by Payconiq’s parent company. Belgians used the card to make 221 million purchases in 20218

Supporting these and other local payment methods (LPMs) is crucial for any merchant hoping to reach the 52% of Belgian consumers who do not have a credit card1. E-wallets and other similar mobile-optimised payment methods are also crucial to onboarding additional mobile shoppers. Consumers complete over a fifth of all online purchases on a phone or other mobile device1

Belgium isn’t just a sophisticated and potentially highly profitable market, but also one which most consumers are open to regarding new ways to shop. Over 70% of consumers say that they have bought items from merchants based outside the country1. This demonstrates a willingness to try new and unfamiliar retailers and brands, if the price and promotion is right — something that should be music to the ears for any merchant looking to expand into the country. 

To find out more about how the Belgian ecommerce market is evolving and what you need to do to succeed in the country, download the PPRO Western and Central Europe Payments and ecommerce report

About Jose Martinez-Benavente

Jose Martinez-Benavente is an accomplished payments specialist with more than 25 years international commercial experience within global companies and venture-backed start-ups. As a dynamic team leader recognized for driving marketing & sales profitability, he is working with senior executives, building organizational momentum and growing business in Germany, Austria, Benelux, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and US. 

About PPRO

PPRO is the leading global provider of local payments infrastructure, powering growth for payment service providers and enterprises with payment platforms. Companies at the forefront of payments technology leverage PPRO's unified platform, expert services, and local payment methods to boost sales in over 100 e-commerce markets worldwide. In 2020 alone, PPRO processed over $11 billion for its customers, including companies such as Mollie, PayPal, Worldpay, and many others.


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Keywords: ecommerce, ecommerce platform, online platform, online shopping, local payment method, mobile payments, mobile money
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: PPRO
Countries: Belgium
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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