The rise of marketplaces in Belgium

The popularity of marketplaces is growing in Belgium, both among consumers and businesses. Although marketplaces have been around for several years, they have only recently gained attention in Belgium, possibly due to the arrival of Amazon. Globally, 57% of all e-commerce transactions currently take place through marketplaces. So it is not surprising that interest in marketplaces is growing.

At Xplore Group, we have our own marketplace experts. Competence center eWings onboards customers to existing marketplaces. Competence Center Operai builds new marketplaces. We talked to Niels, marketplace consultant at Xplore Group (Operai) and chair of the expert group Marketplaces.  

Why are marketplaces becoming increasingly important?

Consumers’ needs are changing, which means that marketplaces are becoming increasingly important for companies. Consumers want to be able to order as easily as possible, with the fastest delivery possible.

Niels: “If you are watching TV in the evening, you quickly reach for your phone during the commercial. Fingerprint, bol .com, one more fingerprint and you’ve ordered. The day after, it’s already delivered. But, when people buy elsewhere, they have to start up their laptop and create an account first. Either what they want is sold out, or the delivery time is two weeks, or they have to pay a lot for shipping…  People don’t see why they should put up with that anymore”.

As a business, you can choose to sell your products on an existing marketplace and reach new customers that way. Or you can choose to start a marketplace yourself and grow that way without having to make the investment (both financial and actual work) yourself. The product range you offer grows considerably, but because other companies offer products on your platform, you yourself are not burdened with the costs of purchasing, stocking, staffing, processing, etc. All those costs and the associated workload are outsourced by the marketplace operator to the seller.


Niels: “When you can outsource those tasks, you can focus on the core of your business. Take Decathlon, for example. That is a marketplace that has made sure they are very good at their niche: sports. They don’t go far outside of that. Decathlon has a number of categories and these ensure that, as a customer, you know very clearly what to expect. If you are looking for black sports shoes, you will be able to buy them on their platform. There’s just no way those could be sold out. If they don’t have them themselves, they will offer you the stock of one of the partners”.

The importance of accurate and complete product data

One of the most important things about a marketplace is the accuracy and completeness of product data. This ensures that your products are found by the correct target group and that a sale can follow. To support this correct product information, modern marketplaces often use a PIM (Product Information Management) system.

Niels: “You also have the build versus buy discussion with marketplaces. If you build your own marketplace, then your success stands or falls with the choice of the right PIM system. If you go and buy a Marketplace solution, this often already includes a PIM system for third parties”.

The future of marketplaces in e-commerce

Niels: “According to Finextra, we can expect a global growth in sales on B2C marketplaces of 14% Year Over Year until 2025. For B2B, the share of sales on marketplaces is currently still low, but there we expect a marketplaces growth of 32% Year Over Year until 2025”.

So the importance of marketplaces really cannot be underestimated. Companies looking to grow should definitely ask themselves how they can leverage marketplaces.

Author: Yellowground and Niels Jaspers, marketplace consultant at Xplore Group

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