Survey shows why more than half of Belgian SMEs don’t sell online

Retailers that don’t sell online mostly say it’s because of a lack of time or knowledge

Survey shows why more than half of Belgian SME retailers don’t sell online. Source:

Although 92% of independent traders in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium are visible online, few of them also sell their products online. As Ecommerce news reports, recent research shows that 46% of retailers not only sell offline but also online.

The results are from a survey by the Organisation for the Self-Employed and SMEs (Unizo) among almost 500 sole traders and companies. It shows that the share of retailers that are visible online is increasing for years now, while the share of those who also sell online has remained quite the same the last two years.

Traders who aren’t active in the e-commerce industry, mostly say it’s because of a lack of time and knowledge (said by 40%). Also the fact their product isn’t suitable for online selling is another popular reason (36%) that prevents companies to sell online. Other reasons are the high-cost price (mentioned by 23%), the fierce price competition online (22%) and the fact they simply see no advantage in selling online (18%).

Among the retailers that do sell online, there are different ways to achieve this. For example, 69 % sells online through email or a website (without any direct pay option), while the same percentage sells through their own online store. And 44% is active with e-commerce through social media, while 26% sells online using online marketplaces such as eBay or

Almost two in three respondents that sell through their own online store, has had this store tailor-made for them, while 27% used existing e-commerce software to open their online store. And 80% of all online shops in Belgium is made for website visits coming from mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones.

According to Unizo, one of the more remarkable conclusions from the study is that only 30% of online sellers have linked their online sales channel to their stock management or physical checkout system.

There’s plenty of room for improvement on this one, and smart digitization could help these retailers

Another interesting finding is that 56% of online retailers surveyed have less than ten online orders per month. A quarter processes between 11 and 50 online orders, while 18% does over 50 orders per month.

For four out of ten online sellers e-commerce accounts for between 1 and 10% of their total sales. And for one out of three e-commerce is even something that cost them money instead of generating income. Nonetheless, many Belgian retailers are positive about e-commerce: 78% say they want to further combine their online and offline sales channels next years. And 53% thinks their online revenue will increase in 2019.

SEE ALSO: How to run a business on Instagram: special features for e-commerce

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