- Web giant Amazon is putting Dutch web stores under pressure with rock bottom prices.
- Thousands of popular products are 7% to almost 18% cheaper at Amazon than at competitors such as Bol.com and Coolblue.
- At the level of the individual articles, large Dutch web shops regularly compete with Amazon.
- There are several indications that Amazon's market share is growing.
- You can find a link to the original Dutch articles below this translation.
Who will enter the prize fight?
Thanks to competitive prices, Amazon has managed to conquer market share and significantly reduced its gap with established rivals such as Bol.com and Coolblue. In the past three months, the American web giant was often the cheapest on a variety of products, according to an analysis that we did for the Dutch news channels BNR and the FD.
In 2019, web giant Amazon opened their Dutch web store, after years of speculating. After that it became quiet around the Americans, but nine months later the Amazon effect is clearly visible, says Sander Roose of Omnia Retail. His analysis of thousands of frequently sold products shows that Amazon.nl is on average considerably cheaper than large Dutch web stores. "For example, Amazon tries to build an aggressive price image and steal market share."
In the past three months, Amazon's most popular products - including many electronics and toys - cost an average of 7% to 9% less than the same products at Bol.com and Mediamarkt. The price gap with Wehkamp and Coolblue was completely large: Amazon.nl was respectively 15% to almost 18% cheaper in recent months.
At the level of individual articles, it can be seen that large Dutch web stores regularly enter the battle. If Amazon.nl is pricing an iPhone on the market very cheaply, they will temporarily go just as low. 'Amazon is the cheapest, but Bol.com in particular is really playing the game', says Bart Zoetmulder of DPG Technology, which keeps track of prices via the Tweakers and Hardware.info websites. In the weeks before Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), the prices of consumer electronics on Bol.com and Amazon.nl crept towards each other, says Zoetmulder. "In October the price difference was about 6%, but only 0.9% at the end of November."
Gain market share
There is not a major price war yet. No major Dutch web store has structurally lowered its prices to the level of Amazon.nl, according to the analysis by Omnia Retail. On the contrary: in the course of the year the difference with the Americans increased. 'This year the corona effect was greater than the Amazon effect,' says Roose. "Online sales have taken off since corona." As a result, there is little need to lower prices. 'But after corona these differences can start to hurt.'
Moreover, web stores can hardly keep up with orders, experts say. Earlier this year, Coolblue had to increase prices due to the massive run on office chairs and keyboards to prevent shortages. It still maintains relatively high price tags (about 8% more than usual).
Whether the bottom prices of the American shopping platform will have the desired effect cannot be said with certainty. Market shares of web shops are unknown. Yet, there are indications that the gap with Bol.com is closing. On price comparison sites, consumers click through to Amazon.nl as often as to Bol.com, says Roose of Omnia Retail. "That is a signal that they are gaining market share."
In addition, the number of visitors to Amazon has doubled in recent months, research firm Vinex noted. Last November, Amazon's reach was 7.3 million Dutch people. That is more than Coolblue, Mediamarkt and Wehkamp, but not as much as Bol.com. The well-known web shop subsidiary of Ahold was visited by 11.6 million Dutch people in November. That is roughly every Dutch person with an internet connection.
More products, lower prices
In terms of assortment, Amazon.nl is much larger: since March the number of products has doubled to 200 million. Bol.com now sells 30 million articles. In a response, Bol.com says it barely notices anything from 'another web store', and studies show that price is not everything. Service, quality and a wide range of delivery options are also important, says the Ahold division. Coolblue and Amazon did not respond to questions from the newspaper.
Dutch web department stores can now afford even higher prices, says Onno Oldeman of price consultancy Simon-Kucher: "Margins were above average this year, and people buy products under € 50 at the trusted Bol.com. Amazon is quite a bit abroad. The tipping point is at a price difference of 10%".
At the same time, you should not underestimate the Americans, the price advisor warns. "Amazon is diligently trying to get a foot in the door here. The Netherlands is difficult for them to enter. But if Amazon really manages to make a name for itself as the cheapest, you know they have the longest breath, the deepest pockets, and the greatest buying power. It could take years, but eventually they will win. "
The original articles: