July 2019 – A prediction: Amazon will soon become the digital marketplace in the Netherlands. Another one: bol.com is going to have a very, very difficult time. You don’t need a crystal ball for this, Bart and Martijn Beekhuizen claim: “With annual sales in 2018 of 234 billion dollars, Amazon is the biggest in the United States. In Germany, almost a quarter of all online purchases already take place via Amazon.” With their company DivisionM, the Beekhuizen brothers want to allow manufacturing brands to grow with them on international marketplaces.
Platforms like bol.com and Coolblue have been warned, if you can believe Bart and Martijn Beekhuizen.
In the Netherlands and Belgium last year, all purchases via bol.com accounted for a turnover of around 1.9 billion euros. Coolblue put it at 1.35 billion in 2018. Great figures, but compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars that Amazon earned worldwide, a relative peanuts. Amazon also does not focus specifically on the Netherlands or Belgium, Martijn says: “The Netherlands is still seen as a province of Germany, just like Poland and the Czech Republic are in their eyes. Amazon’s strategy therefore focuses on France, England, Germany, Italy and Spain, Europe’s largest economies.”
The Dutch customer is considered a by-catch? Bart nods: “Alibaba, for example, is building gigantic warehouses in Europe. They don’t just do that for their European customers. These logistics warehouses supply products to China. Because that country is still developing spectacularly. The Chinese middle class now consists of 430 million people, has something to spend and likes to buy American and European brands.”
Have a clear marketplace strategy and realize that the algorithms behind the marketplaces are fantastically ingenious and expose all the secrets
DivisionM warns against fragmentation. The choices of companies to put their products away through a digital environment are many. But the many small online platforms should be concerned. “It’s not container ships that are coming in now,” Martijn warns, “it’s an immeasurable fleet of many thousands of supertankers. With only a few captains at the helm who determine everything.”
The comparison with Hyves is quickly made: the Dutch social network quickly built up a network of almost ten million users from 2004 onwards and generated an annual turnover of many millions of euros. When Facebook made its appearance, Hyves was done for within two years. A similar fate befell Nokia (versus the iPhone).
The Beekhuizen brothers suspected an extraordinary change in the landscape of online shopping. A fundamental change even”, says Bart, “because Amazon and Alibaba, but also eBay and the Japanese Rakuten are not going to be chased away easily.”
DivisionM – the M stands for marketplace, of course – helps companies with a smart, safe way of doing business online. Anyone can put something on a web shop. It’s about how you do it. It’s about the quality of your digital content being good and staying good, that you as a company keep control of your online products and that customers find you quickly”, says Martijn. DivisionM therefore wants to unburden you. “Because being an entrepreneur is busy enough as it is. We help formulate a good marketplace strategy, provide support for operational activities, take over the management and creation of content and we arrange the marketing within marketplaces. So that our customers’ products are better found and they have a better grip on the way their products are presented.”
The development of webshops – and the influence of this retail branch on consumer buying behavior – does not draw on the knowledge of the average entrepreneur. “We think we can be an addition to the business. We do keep up with the developments. We profile ourselves, not pretentiously intended, very clearly as an Amazon specialist.”
As a company, get well informed, they advise. Make sure you have a clear marketplace strategy and realize that the algorithms behind the marketplaces are fantastically ingenious and expose all the secrets: “Via Marketplaces, everything is measurable and insightful. They often know the customer better than they know themselves. So there are opportunities there for companies. We say: seize that opportunity.”
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