You only have to open Linkedin, NU.nl or the AD and there is a message about the arrival of Amazon from the Netherlands. The best thing about those messages (and as so often), I think are the reactions to these messages, often in favor of Dutch companies. Some of those reactions are as chauvinistic as the average Frenchman, ''Let's support bol.com (part of multinational Ahold) so that the Dutch E-commerce market continues to exist'', and on the other side we see the good seekers with dozens of posts (and many comments) that the ''5-10-20 Tricks To Sell Your Products Best On Amazon And Make Money Fast'' already advertise.
The best part is that something is happening again in the Dutch E-Commerce world and we see that our customers are working on this every day. Time to make a comparison between the big three: Amazon vs Coolblue vs Bol.com. Since we are looking at this from a marketing perspective, I chose to use the old 5P model here, precisely because it seems to have proven itself for years.
Just a brief introduction to the 5p's and the reason why it is used in almost every marketing education. The 5P model was conceived for Philip Kotler, professor of Marketing. The 5Ps are about the following words: Product, Promotion, Price, Place and Personnel. Simple as that† If you want to know more about the 5p's, read this publication: link.
We take up the analysis per P, so that we get a good honest picture of the various companies.
The big three are all webshops, with different product categories and brands. Amazon started out as an online bookstore, the same goes for Bol.com. In the past, Coolblue focused on the various specific niche platforms (telefoonhoesjeshop.nl) and nowadays all categories on 1 platform. We do see a difference in the possibility for entrepreneurs to sell their own products on the platforms. This is an option at both Amazon & Bol.com and Coolblue, for example, does not have this option. We do hear the stories that Amazon copies well-running products and adds them to the private label, we do not see these experiences at Bol.com and it therefore seems that your product is safer here.
The second part focuses on all forms of promotion of the company / where do we encounter them. Bol.com is of course known for the Dutch commercials, first with a Bol Male, nowadays with the typical (Dutch) situations such as 'the right button'. In addition, the Sinterklaas commercials can generally be called legendary (link).
Quite recognizable for the average Dutch person and they clearly show that they understand the target group. On the other hand, Coolblue is active with the 'Anything for a smile' and newer slogans, which clearly focuses on providing service to its customers. Such as when choosing a laptop or washing machine. It also helps that the CEO (Peter Black) Coolblue can now be called a well-known Dutchman and regularly appears in the various advertisements. In addition, Coolblue's promotions can generally be called humorous, which fits well with the target group and gives a sense of recognition. Such as, for example, the explosive robbery incident in Utrecht not long ago and the way Coolblue reacted with the plonk vacancy.
When we look at the promotion of Amazon, we secretly see some influencer advertisements here and there, but it is otherwise still quite quiet in the Netherlands. We do see many different promotional activities internationally, sometimes with big names and often with a lot of interaction. A typical example for this is the 2019 Holiday commercial, or the Amazon Super Bowl commercial† Nice commercials, but not directly related to the Dutch target group.
The third component focuses on the price of the products being sold. At the moment it is difficult to compare the prices of Amazon with the prices of Coolblue and Bol.com because many products are not yet available. We do see that the prices at Coolblue are generally slightly higher than at Bol.com, if we put the prices at Amazon.de next to it, we see that they are slightly lower again. This is not a guarantee for the Dutch expansion, but could be an indication that Amazon wants to compete with the players on price. This has been done in the past (both USA and Germany) and pieces of market were ''bought'' through extremely low prices. This tactic is not uncommon and can be an interesting way for wealthy parties to enter a market relatively quickly. With the current capital position from Amazon this is not a problem.
The fourth part focuses on the location of a product or supplier. Here we see a clear distinction between the different players. Where Coolblue has made a lot of progress in recent years invested in Offline Shops (with often long lines) Bol.com has a nice combination with the different Albert Heijn stores† My expectation is that this combination will continue to develop in the coming years. Amazon, on the other hand, does not yet have physical locations and will have to compensate for this with another solution to be physically visible to the target group. I expect that this will be used by major offline print campaigns, but that is not clear at the moment.
The last part is aimed at the staff of the stores. Something that is difficult for webshops to distinguish themselves in. We do see that both Bol.com and Coolblue have a good reputation in the field of customer service. After all, Coolblue has made it their slogan. In addition, we see that the Coolblue deliverers have a good reputation. When we look at the reputations on Trustpilot, we see a big difference in the players and Coolblue by far has the best reputation with 4,5 stars compared to Amazon with 2 stars and Bol.com with 3,5 stars.
So, how exciting is it really?
When we compare the 5p's, we see a clear difference between the parties. On the one hand, the Dutch players who know the market well, offer a relatively good service and are (can be) top of mind with the target groups. On the other hand, we see the possibilities of Amazon to buy the Dutch market. My expectation is that this will not happen at such a pace and that the Dutch players will be relatively unaffected by the arrival of Amazon. The Dutch shareholders of both Bol.com and Coolblue are financially strong enough to be able to invest with them and I do not expect Amazon to see the Netherlands as a very important market that they want to conquer at all costs.
I would like to make a comparison between Marktplaats.nl and Ebay. Ebay is the large (parent) company that has a leading position worldwide in the field of second-hand products and on the other hand Marktplaats.nl, which, as a typical Dutch player, continues to perform well in the market. Where in other countries the national brands have been replaced by Ebay, Marktplaats.nl still remains high in the market. I therefore expect that despite the international IT focus of the average Dutch person, we would still like to remain loyal to the Dutch suppliers.
Help us, what do you think?
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