Broadening online offer for Dutch and Belgian consumers: choice from 41 million different articles
Bol.com has welcomed its 50,000th sales partner. Since 2011, bol.com has been developing from a webshop into an e-commerce platform on which Dutch and Belgian entrepreneurs, mostly SMEs, sell their products. This has greatly broadened the online offer for consumers: currently, bol.com customers can choose from 41 million different items. The number of sales partners of bol.com has almost doubled in the last three years. In the first quarter of 2022, 60% of sales were made through a sales partner*. In order to make sales via the platform easier and more efficient for entrepreneurs, bol.com started offering services, tools and knowledge to its partners.
With a range of 41 million articles in dozens of product categories and over 13 million Dutch and Belgian customers, bol.com has grown in over twenty years to become a recognizable connector between local demand and local supply. In 2020, bol.com platform experienced the largest growth, when more than 10,000 sales partners joined the platform. During the lockdowns in the corona period, many entrepreneurs found an additional sales channel with bol.com. As a result, the assortment for customers was expanded by 12 million items**. Almost all bol.com sales partners are located in the Netherlands or Belgium. Occasionally, bol.com cooperates with an entrepreneur based elsewhere in the EU if it is unable to complete the assortment with its Dutch and Belgian partners.
Oscar Hundman, Chief eCommerce Officer at bol.com: “We see that people are buying more and more via the Internet. For local entrepreneurs, this means that it has become more interesting to strengthen their physical sales with online sales. We believe in the power of collaboration. Bol.com offers sales partners an additional sales channel with which they can reach millions of customers, also across the border in the Netherlands/Belgium, without having to invest in their own web store. In this way, together we create a better offer for our joint customers.”
The very first sales partner
The very first seller on the platform was Ardi Seij, founder of the second-hand bookstore Boek2. “I’ve been using bol.com as an additional sales channel next to my own webshop for years. I soon noticed that I was tapping into a whole new customer base. A younger audience that values a fast and easy delivery service.” Ardi describes bol.com as a professional cooperation partner, who supports him in the growth of his business. “Items that I can’t get rid of through my own webshop are sometimes sold within a day through bol.com. This makes it a powerful medium.”
As an online platform, bol.com is constantly looking for ways to unburden sales partners and accelerate the growth of their business. With an important focus on improving customer service. The service ‘Logistics via bol.com’ is an example of this, where sales partners outsource their entire logistic process – from inventory storage and shipping to customer questions – to bol.com. Sales partner Allesmobiel NL, which specializes in mobile accessories, has been using this service for several years now. Tim Haaksma, founder: “Outsourcing our logistics services saves us a lot of time and worry. Moreover, this way we can offer our customers the optimal delivery service.”
In addition to the logistics services, Allesmobiel NL uses the data, insights and knowledge that bol.com offers its sales partners. In five years, they have seen their sales on the platform almost double. “The detailed data reports that bol.com shares with us about sales opportunities and search trends, among other things, provide us with tools for our sales strategy,” says Haaksma. “But also the personal coaching and information on the partner platform has helped us further.” According to Haaksma, bol.com’s biggest advantage is its 13 million Dutch and Belgian customers. “On no other platform in the Netherlands can you reach such a large audience. In addition to increasing our sales, this helps us build our brand awareness.”
The major milestones in the transformation of bol.com from store to platform
- 1999-2010 – On March 30, 1999, bol.com was born in the Netherlands. At the start, the assortment consisted of 140,000 Dutch-language books. In the years that followed, the assortment was expanded with music, films, games, electronics and toys. In addition, the store expands to Flanders.
- 2011 – Bol.com opens its doors to a group of Dutch sales partners to sell their products through the platform, this is the starting point of bol.com as a platform. Bol.com is the first store in the Netherlands to offer such a sales structure.
- 2014 – Bol.com expands as a platform and welcomes its first Belgian sales partners.
- 2014 – Sales partners realize sales of 100 million euros with their sales through bol.com in 12 months.
- 2015 – Bol.com introduces ‘Logistics via bol.com’. This new service allows sales partners to outsource the logistics of their bol.com orders to the platform – from inventory storage and shipping to customer inquiries and returns. This makes selling via the platform for sales partners easier, more efficient and therefore more sustainable.
- 2021 – Bol.com introduces “Shipping via bol.com. This new service allows sales partners to outsource the shipping of their bol.com orders to the platform against attractive delivery agreements and shipping rates.
- 2022 – Bol.com is the first e-commerce company in the Netherlands and Belgium to bear the Climate Neutral Certification mark. This means that bol.com reduces CO2 emissions as much as possible and compensates for what remains according to the criteria of CNG. For the 49,000 sales partners who sell via the platform, the operational emissions are calculated, which bol.com also offsets.
- 2022 – Bol.com opens the expansion of its fulfillment center in Waalwijk to provide logistics services to the growing number of sales partners, among other things. This doubles the total floor area of the fulfillment center to 100,000 m².
- 2022 – Bol.com makes more sustainable packaging available to sales partners.
*Ahold Delhaize Q1 results 2022 (May 11 2022): Bol.com’s percentage of net consumer online sales from third-party sellers was 60% in Q1, with nearly 49,000 merchant partners active on the platform. Q1 2022 (aholddelhaize.com)
** Bol.com (2021, January). PlatformMonitor Q4 2020. Https://partnerplatform.bol.com/content/uploads/2021/01/platformmonitor.pdf