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Exporting to The Netherlands: How to enter the Dutch market
Vivien Christel Vella
Vivien Christel Vella
Vivien is an international marketing expert who advises customers on the best way to reach new markets.
8 min read
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The Netherlands is Europe’s seventh-largest e-commerce market by revenue, making it a big target for potential importers1. It's a highly developed country with significant purchasing power, a digitally mature population, and advanced smartphone penetration.

E-commerce revenue is growing, and user penetration (how many people regularly shop online) is climbing above the European average. For exporters like you, The Netherlands’ e-commerce market is a promising target.2            

*This is marginally below the European average of 9.97%, but nevertheless strong growth for a mature market.3

 

*This is well above the European average of 69%.4

*As of 20225

What Dutch shoppers buy online

 E-commerce share of retail spending in the Netherlands in 2022 and spending intention for 2027, by product category.6

  • Retail spending in 2022 (represented in yellow). 
  • Retail spending intention in 2027 (represented in red). 

Consumer electronics is the largest market right now.7

A broad range of age groups shop online

Online shopping is prevalent across all age groups, with the only drop of in use seen amongst the 75+ age group – where usage is around 50%.8

E-commerce strategy: How to succeed in The Netherlands

When shipping to the Netherlands, there are a few main challenges to consider:

  • Exclusive Distributorship: The Dutch market is competitive and relatively small in size. Local importers often prefer exclusive distributorship agreements, meaning they may insist on being the sole distributor of a particular product or brand in the Netherlands. This can limit options for US exporters and may require finding a suitable local partner or negotiating distribution agreements.
  • Adaptation to the Dutch Market: Exporters may need to make adjustments to their products and documentation to suit the preferences and requirements of the Dutch market. This could involve considering product labeling and packaging in compliance with Dutch regulations, as well as adapting marketing materials and product information to resonate with Dutch consumers.
  • Import Tax and Duties: Import tax, also known as customs duties or tariffs, can be complex when shipping to the Netherlands. As a member of the European Union (EU), the Netherlands follows EU trade policies, which generally involve low or no tariffs for goods originating from other EU member states. However, import tax may still apply to goods imported from outside the EU. The specific rates and regulations vary depending on the type of product being imported. It is essential to determine the correct tariff classification and consult the Dutch Customs authorities or a customs broker to ensure compliance with import tax requirements.

Despite these challenges, the Netherlands has a well-developed infrastructure and efficient customs processes, making it straightforward to import goods compared to some other countries. Additionally, the Dutch population is generally open to international products and trade, making it an attractive market for exporters.

Getting help from The Netherlands government: Official trade resources

The Dutch embassy network, government, and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency will help you find the information you need. Business.gov.nl is the official Dutch government website for non-Dutch speaking entrepreneurs and is specially designed to help you do business in the Netherlands and working with Dutch companies. The website offers practical information on tax schemes, setting up your business, subsidies and more.

Who are the top exporters to The Netherlands?

Note: 2019 figures. Current numbers may differ.

What consumers want 

Dutch consumers appreciate discounts and freebies, actively seeking ways to save money. Laptops and desktops remain their preferred devices for online shopping. Professional and reliable-looking e-commerce sites are favoured, and Dutch customers value personal contact. Fulfilling promises is crucial, as honesty and prompt responsiveness to inquiries and complaints are expected.

 Fast and reliable delivery, a good returns policy, and user-friendly website navigation are important factors for Dutch online shoppers.

There is a growing emphasis on sustainability among Dutch consumers. A significant percentage of shoppers in the Netherlands prioritize the sustainability of products, particularly in the food sector. Eco-friendly food products, such as eggs and fish, have a strong presence in the market. Additionally, there is a notable increase in the adoption of zero-emission cars, with electric vehicles accounting for a considerable portion of newly registered passenger vehicles in 2020.

Holidays and events to look out for

Like many countries, the Netherlands has a unique number of national holidays and events that e-commerce sellers should look out for:

  • New Year’s Day: January 1st
  • Easter Monday: April 10th
  • King's DayApril 27th
  • Ascension Day: May 18th
  • Whit Monday: May 29th
  • Christmas Day: December 25th
  • Boxing Day: December 26th

 

Preferred online payment methods

Popular payment methods in the Netherlands:10

  • iDEAL (digital wallet service) 70%
  • Credit card 8%
  • PayPal 4%
  • Debit card 4%
  • Bank transfer 4%
  • AfterPay 2%
  • Klarna 2%
  • Bank authorization 1%   

 

Delivery preferences11

Consumers in the Netherlands value free shipping and free returns and prefer economy over express shipping. Delivery times around Europe of 2/3 days is still considered fast in comparison to the post/mail delivery which normally take much longer.

DHL can help you get started

Whether you're a small business or a growing e-commerce merchant, we can help you reach new markets across the world. Our DHL Express Global Trade Services toolkit makes it easy to get your shipments through customs. Calculate duty, tax, and more to get upfront shipping costs, and find the latest import and export regulations.

Import Duty Calculator & More - DHL Express Global Trade Services

Shipping services to/from the Netherlands

  • Select our Express or Economy services for delivery options around Europe at the speed that you need.

Flexible delivery options

  • Put your customers in control with DHL's On-Demand Delivery, a free service that gives the receiver six delivery options.

Free updates and step-by-step tracking

  • With DHL, you always have full visibility of your shipment(s), at no additional cost, via our status and delivery updates.

Retail Channel with collection and drop-off points

  • 900 DHL Servicepoints across the Netherlands means maximum convenience for your customers. 

A reliable logistics service provider is crucial in relieving both the sender and the recipient. For instance, if the logistics service provider can assist with customs matters, it saves a lot of extra handling. Additionally, a reliable logistics service provider contributes to a better brand image for the sender and ensures satisfied recipients, both in B2B and B2C contexts.

Start shipping to the Netherlands today

Find the experience and advice you need to get going. Open a
 DHL Express Business Account for expert international shipping advice and competitive rates.