But the installation of the American e-commerce giant does not delight all traders, especially on the UCM side: “We are not enthusiastic. The economic model is not a model that we support and appreciate, both for the working conditions of people and for the consumer frenzy driven by e-commerce which keeps consumers away from local shops.“, explains Thierry Evens, spokesperson for the Union of the Middle Classes. “En dangling discounts, good deals and wonderful things, we keep customers away from our local businesses when ultimately, there is an attachment and a need for local businesses that offer quality, advice, products on measure“.
It is difficult for small traders to provide advice remotely or to easily introduce customers to products when everything is done online. However, with the various confinements, consumers have turned more to the web, and many are those who continue to do business online.
High fees for small traders
“Obviously, we are not against e-commerce“, replica Thierry Evens,but we will prefer other solutions than that of this great company which tries to have a monopoly situation. NOTWe remain wary of the services Amazon offers to independent businesses. Their conditions are not very readable and are not particularly interesting for small independents. Using their platform costs money and the details regarding in particular the return of articles are not very clear“, concludes the representative.
The American company invites SMEs and sellers wishing to go through the platform to register on a dedicated website (sell.amazon.com.be) in order to offer their products there. The opportunity therefore exists for Belgian stores wishing to develop online sales.
But the service has a price: 39 € per month (excluding VAT), to which must be added sales costs: a percentage that Amazon recovers according to the object purchased, as well as delivery and management costs. For small traders, the note may be difficult to settle, we are told at the UCM.
On the side of the Neutral Syndicate for Independents, we do not necessarily see the giant with a bad eye even if we do not welcome him with open arms either: “From a competition point of view, this does not change much since Belgian consumers are already heading to the French, Dutch or German sites of Amazon” explains Christophe Wambersie, Secretary General of the SNI. “It is one solution among others, each freelancer and merchant is free to choose to go through these large groups or to launch individually on the web. For us, the challenge is that independent traders do not miss the digital train.“
The deeper installation of Amazon in Belgium is therefore an additional offer for merchants but it is not the only one: “VSach trader is invited to seek advice from professionals to see what might suit him best. The Walloon Region also issues digital business vouchers to help up to 90% of the costs of being accompanied. Belgian or local platforms are also available“, adds Christophe Wambersie.
Flanders more particularly targeted
By launching his own “webstore“in Belgium, Amazon wants”offer great added value with a local store“, told the Belga agency Eva Faict, responsible for the launch of the Belgian platform.
Proof of his investment in our country, Amazon announced last February that it was going to build its first Belgian distribution center in Antwerp. The center should be operational by the end of the year and more than fifty new direct jobs will be created there. “The station will serve our customers in Belgium in a more efficient and sustainable way, increasing our delivery capacities and being closer to our customers in Flanders.“, says the company on its website.
And Flanders is more than likely in the sights of the e-commerce giant, and more particularly the Dutch platform Bol.com, which attracts many customers in the north of the country: “One inquest shows that 82% of French speakers say they have already used Amazon. In Flanders, it is 47%“, explains Win Van Edo, economist at Comeos.
“Amazon is likely to do a lot of marketing to attract Belgian sellers to the platform, many Belgian customers are already there. But the arrival of Amazon is above all an action by the brand to confront competition, which is much more marked in the north of the country. The French-speaking part usually goes to foreign Amazon sites while the Dutch-speaking part of the country does most of its shopping online at Bol.com“, adds the expert.
There are therefore few major changes to be expected here in Wallonia, but Flanders could find itself somewhat shaken up.