Plan your logistics for the Netherlands

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1 Overview

The challenge

Known as the Gateway to Europe, the Netherlands is a hub for foreign-owned distribution and logistics centres, and over 160 million consumers can be reached within 24 hours of its two major cities. You should consider the Netherlands if you’re looking for an ideal entry point to tap into the European market.

Your aim

After reading this guide you will understand the opportunities presented by the Netherlands and how to make the most of them, as well as have a general understanding of the Netherlands’ place in the global balance of powers and why this affects businesses.

2 Expanding business to the Netherlands

When planning how to grow your business abroad, it’s important to consider the current climate of the market you’re planning to enter.

The Netherlands is a hub for foreign-owned logistics and distribution centres. Known as The Gateway to Europe, it is home to around 900 distribution centres for American and Asian companies.

The Netherlands’ logistics infrastructure is driven by world-class seaports, centrally located airports and a modern network of roads and highways. Its infrastructure and excellent logistics service providers are handy for companies in need of logistics and distribution help in Europe. Over 160 million consumers can be reached within 24 hours of Amsterdam or Rotterdam, making the Netherlands the perfect springboard into the European market.1

The Netherlands’ advantageous corporate tax structure, highly educated and multilingual workforce, robust supply chain and network of suppliers have incentivised major multinational companies like Coca-Cola, IBM, Huawei and Tommy Hilfiger to use the country for access to the European market.

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  1. Invest in Netherlands 

3 Quick facts and advantages of doing business in the Netherlands

  • The Netherlands was ranked fourth in the 2016 World Bank Global Logistics Performance Index (based on efficiency and effectiveness of its customs, quality of transport, IT infrastructure and ease and affordability of shipping)

  • Dutch inland shipping accounts for 54% of all trade shipping in Western Europe. The Dutch fleet includes 7,000 vessels and is the biggest and most modern fleet in Europe1

  • Over 1,000 American and Asian companies have centralized their European distribution activities in the Netherlands. The country hosts over 20 million square meters of distribution centers2

  1. Holland Trade and Invest 

  2. Holland Trade and Invest 

4 Customer trends

It’s crucial to think about customer behaviour when expanding in new markets. How does your target customer usually buy products? What’s their preferred method of delivery? The following factors will help you consider how customer trends will affect the way you go about doing business in the Netherlands.

  • Offering next-day delivery options online can increase your sales in Europe by as much as 25%. Sunday delivery, same-day delivery and evening delivery can decrease the rate at which online shoppers abandon baskets by as much as 15%1

  • Home delivery is the preferred delivery method2

  • Studies show that nearly 25% of online purchases in the Netherlands fall into the consumer goods category3

  • 86% of the population are Internet users, with a GDP per capita of 40,900 euros. Over 90% of Internet users made a purchase online in 2016

  • The Dutch prefer to shop in their own language with local payment method options

  • iDeal as a payment method is strongly advised, as 56% of users prefer this method4

  • Transparency about your delivery options and times is critical

  • Popular online categories include: clothing, home electronics and books

  • Tablets are the most popular mobile device for shopping, followed by smartphones5

  1. Web Retailer 

  2. Thuiswinkel Markt Monitor 

  3. eMarketer 

  4. eCommerce News 

  5. Tweenga solutions 

5 Fulfillment models

Cross-border into the Netherlands

As home to the Port of Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe, and the Port of Amsterdam, ranked fourth largest in Europe, after the Brexit vote, the Netherlands may replace the United Kingdom as the most popular ecommerce port to the EU for US companies.

Intra-EU fulfillment

The Netherlands is located in the centre of the three largest economies in Europe (Germany, the UK and France) and is within a 400 mile radius of half of the major European markets. Due to the robust infrastructure of its roads, rail and a network of canals and rivers, the Netherlands offers many options for companies to meet consumer expectations around delivery speed and shipping costs.

Intra-Netherlands fulfillment

The area of Waalwijk/Tilburg is a highly accessible fulfillment location. It offers easy highway access and all of the Netherlands is within a two-and-a-half hour radius of Waalwijk/Tilburg. The Netherlands is also close to Belgium and Germany, providing easy access to these major European populations.

6 Transport

Small parcel carriers

The most common carriers in the Netherlands are Netherlands Post, DHL, DPD, GLS and UPS. For direct-to-consumer and parcel deliveries:1

  • PostNL: 55-60% market share
  • DHL Parcel: 25-30% market share
  • DPD
  • GLS
  • UPS

The following carriers maintain the highest per capita market share in the EU:

Carrier EU-wide per capita market share
Royal Mail 16.0%
Deutsche Post 13.8%
Austrian Post 9.3%
PostNL 9.2%
PostNord (SE) 8.9%
PostNord (DK) 8.0%
Posti 6.1%
La Poste 4.4.%
bpost 2.9%
Poste Italiane 1.1%

For less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload (TL) carriers:2

  • DB Schenker
  • Kuehne + Nagel
  • MainFreight
  • Ritmo
  • Timex

  1. Authority for Consumer Markets 2016 

  2. Authority for Consumers & Markets Netherlands Parcel Scan 

7 How to start doing business in the Netherlands

When weighing up your move into the Dutch market, think about the pros and cons of incorporating a new company to do business, and the type of company structure that might suit you. Determine which tax office applies to you, register with the Tax and Customs Administration, and check if you need to pay VAT in the Netherlands. Finally, confirm your goods can be imported into the Netherlands and find a fulfillment centre and carriers that provide coverage in the areas you’re targeting, or throughout Europe, if using it as a cross-border location.

Market Finder contains a breakdown of the World Bank’s Doing Business Index, where you can get a heads-up about the ease of doing business in the Netherlands. It ranks on a scale of 1 – 190 how easy it is for a business to set up and run a local firm in each of the world economies. 10 topics are assessed to gain the score. These include the ease of getting electricity, the ease of getting credit and the potential for cross-border trade.

When trading in a new market, it’s good to know the administrative, regulatory and logistical challenges that may lie ahead. Navigating legal requirements and working out logistics is made a lot easier with Market Finder – find further support and tools including in-depth guides and insights.

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Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services provides logistics solutions to help businesses connect supply and demand.


The materials provided on the site are for informational purposes only. For financial, tax or legal advice, consult a specialist.