Dutch B2B companies have been asleep for 15 years

3 min read
Apr 29, 2024 2:11:36 PM
"Buying on the Internet has long been presented as the consumer revolution on the Internet. Well ... it is nowhere near that far in the Netherlands. Indeed, it seems as if the Dutch business community is asleep. A lot of product providers don't get much further than a picture and a phone number on the screen. So that's not how it works, Willem Lust heard from Internet experts."


This is the literal introduction to a 1999 NOVA broadcast about the then-emerging Internet and how Dutch businesses were dealing with it. Really nice to hear the experts back then, Vincent Evers with little hair and Ben Tiggelaar with a bunch of curls, talk about what could be better.


Fortunately, quite a few companies mentioned in the above video have since made the move, but quite a few have not (V&D). Some companies have never been able to incorporate digital. Others have had to invest heavily to regain a significant role online (Bijenkorf).

Analogy with the world of B2B

What struck us most was the analogy we see with the world of B2B today. For example, instead of Bijenkorf or V&D, enter www.eriks.nl, www.frencken.nl or www.neways.nl on the search engine.


Two companies with more than 100 million in sales. Clearly they are doing something right, but certainly not online yet!

And they are certainly not the only ones. A lot of B2B companies that we take under our online marketing microscope today still have a world to win on the net. They still think a picture and a phone number, and - go ahead - an info@... e-mail address and the download of a product sheet: the digital business card. In short, they are definitely not taking B2B marketing seriously yet.

Digital Maturity Model

We understand very well why many companies have not yet invested heavily in online. The returns of online are unclear to many CEOs and boards. Traditional sales is what they understand and know. That produces measurable results, but it is in combining the two that the power lies. Deploy online marketing to generate measurable sales qualified leads and gradually move from phase 1 to phase 4, with the ultimate goal of phase 5. Do the digital maturity scan.


How are V&D and Bijenkorf faring now?

It took until 2009 for Bijenkorf to really embrace online. And in 2010, Bijenkorf converted about 35 million online, experienced 70% growth in 2011 and decided to focus on 7 flagship stores (there were 11) and online in 2012. And that didn't hurt them if we see the following results: the Three Foolish Days booklets were viewed 3.7 million times online in 2013, and the Inspiration Magazine had 600,000 online views. The Bijenkorf email newsletter reached 1 million people, and the Bijenkorf App, downloaded 500,000 times is viewed 80,000 times a week. On Facebook, Bijenkorf has over 600,000 likes, and on Twitter they have over 100,000 followers.

- Update February 2018 -
When I wrote this blog three years ago, V&D had 325,000 likes on Facebook, 7,500 Twitter followers, V&D-online could handle orders until 9 p.m., was available 70 hours a week and delivered 5 days a week. Unlike a Coolblue, for example, which at the time was already taking orders until midnight and 7 days a week. V&D was not an online brand and - as we all know - never became one.

Are you also wondering how your website and all online activities can contribute substantially to your company's results?

I would love to talk to you further about how we can approach your commercial process in such a way that online will play a significant role in realizing new business. Because then a change is not only needed in the way you attract and bind your customers through online channels, but also in the way your commercial organization (people, processes) is set up.

If you have been triggered by my blog and would like to discover how you can take that first step, please let me know via emiel@webs.nl.


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