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E-commerce boom hits Belgium

Published on 14/12/2004

14 December 2004

BRUSSELS – Internet shopping is finally catching on in Belgium, it emerged on Tuesday.

La Libre Belgique reported that e-companies have seen sales soaring – although they still lag behind those of other countries – mainly due to the increasing spread of internet use and of broadband services.

“The number of customers and, above all, the number of transactions, have greatly increased over the last year,” said Peter De Caluwe, sales manager for Ogone, which runs an online pay system used by 99 percent of Belgian e-companies.

“In total, today there are around 1 million transactions a month, with 50 to 60 percent of those carried out in Belgium.”

The Antwerp-based company Weekendesk, which sells weekends and gift vouchers on-line, has seen its turnover soar by five times this year.

“It’s true that we sell some of our gift vouchers in shops but, for the last two years, we’ve seen a noticeable increase in our internet sales,” said Bruno Spaas, one of the founders of Weekendesk.

“In total our turnover through the Belgian internet amounts to EUR 5 million.”

Spaas said the sales showed customers were becoming more confident in buying over the internet.

Web firm DVDZone2 also predicted it would record a 45 percent increase in turnover for 2004, compared to last year.

“With an average of 23000 DVDs, CDs and video games sold on-line every month, we should hit a turnover of EUR 5 million this year,” said founder Jean-Noel Chamart.

E-companies believe 2005 will be an even better year for them, with Belgians starting to understand more about 3-D Secure technology.

The technology is being increasingly used to introduce an extra level of security to credit card payments made on the web.

“I think 3-D Secure is going to really improve people’s trust in on-line payments and give e-commerce a boost,” said De Caluwe.

“But at the moment, consumers have no idea what this technology is. It’s up to the banks to tell them about it properly. Up until now, banks haven’t told consumers enough that there is no danger in using a credit card on the web.”

Weekendesk and DVDZone2 have already started to expand their range of products in preparation for a bumper 2005. Weekendesk is to start selling weekends in towns with Ryanair and Virgin Express connections and DVDZone2 is planning to start selling comics.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news