14 percent of Dutch exports are online orders

© Hollandse Hoogte
In 2021, enterprises in the Netherlands exported 76 billion euros in goods and services that were ordered online. This represents 14 percent of total exports by these firms. The bulk of this e-commerce export value was on account of enterprises within the European Union (EU). Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this in the latest Internationalisation Monitor, which focuses on digitalisation and international trade.

An increasing share of the enterprises surveyed (10 employed persons and up) in the business economy (also) sell their goods through online channels. In 2021, almost 31 percent of these enterprises received orders via e-commerce; this was still 22 percent in 2012. These included for example ordered books, clothing, meals or groceries and booked airline tickets or accommodations. The number of e-commerce orders from abroad rose as well. In 2021, 52 percent of enterprises active in e-commerce also sold online across the border; this was still 41 percent in 2012. The value of online purchases from abroad at firms in the Netherlands was 76 billion euros in 2021; i.e., one-seventh of the total export value of goods and services by those enterprises.

Share of enterprises with e-commerce transactions
CategoryDutch-owned only (%)Foreign-owned (%)

Websites and apps primary online sales channels

The majority of international e-commerce transactions were concluded via websites and apps, which were used by 23 percent of the firms. Four percent of firms used EDI (electronic data interchange between enterprises, including trade transactions) while another 4 percent used a combination of websites, apps and EDI. The larger part of the export value was on account of other firms abroad, while a smaller share was contributed by individual consumers. This is due to the fact that consumers tend to buy goods or services at smaller amounts.

Non-multinationals have fewer online sales to other countries

Multinationals and non-multinationals are equally likely to sell through online sales channels. However, they are not equally active in targeting foreign customers via e-commerce. Multinationals are far more likely to sell abroad via e-commerce than non-multinationals. Of all Dutch-owned and foreign-owned multinationals with e-commerce, respective shares of 67 and 65 percent were engaged in international transactions; this was 47 percent among non-multinationals.

International e-commerce sales transactions, 2021
 International e-commerce (% of enterprises with e-commerce)
Dutch-owned ultinationals67
Foreign-owned multinationals65

Most e-commerce exports are intra-EU

Most online purchases were made by customers from neighbouring countries: over three-quarters of the e-commerce export value involved other countries within the EU. For enterprises achieving at least half of their e-commerce turnover through exports, Germany was by far the most important destination in terms of export value. In second and third place respectively were France and the United Kingdom. The largest share of e-commerce exporters were exporting to France. In other words, there were many enterprises who handled relatively small orders from France. The United States and China are the only non-European destinations in the top 10 of e-commerce exporters.

Top 10 export destinations for enterprises with at least 50 percent international e-commerce, 2021
 Share of export value (%)Share of enterprises (%)
United Kingdom7.167
United States6.447.8