Dutch web shop group Coolblue has launched its French web shop today. At the start, only IT products are available, but the other product categories should follow soon and everything should be available by the end of the year.
Positive French reactions
Coolblue has been active in Flanders for several years, but has not entered the French-speaking Belgian market just yet. “We have no intention to add another market right now. As soon as we see our growth slow down, we will do that, but it is not easy. Another language is not just a matter of translating the website. You have to approach a lot of things differently, like manuals in other languages for instance”, CEO Pieter Zwart said in September 2015.
That moment has now arrived: encouraged by many positive French reactions to its store in Zaventem, the Dutch retailer will launch a French version of its website tomorrow, as confirmed by Coolblue Belgium’s CEO, Matthias De Clercq.
It has been preparing its move towards the southern part of Belgium for quite some time. It already recruited French-speaking employees for its call center in Wilrijk and bilingual employees for its human resources division in Belgium. Its expansion into Brussels and Wallonia should also serve as a test how fast Coolblue can handle a new market and language, the first stepping stones towards France. However, it may very well be that Coolblue will add another foreign market first.
The brand has also built a physical store network, where customers can pick up and return their orders, but those will not be built in Wallonia just yet. “We want to focus on a good website for now”, De Clercq said. “That will tell us what our customers want and expect. We will test and measure a lot of things and this approach is also the reason why we are steadily expanding our French website. We want to maintain our excellent customer experience scores.”
Chain will install household appliances
The company will also focus on new things: De Tijd claims Coolblue will also expand its Belgian services by the end of the year. It will not only deliver household appliances for free, but also install them and take the old ones back, a service that already exists in the Netherlands. It is already hiring employees to that end and deliveries will be shipped from its warehouses in Zwijndrecht, Ghent and Liege.
Before the start of the new year, Coolblue also wants to merge its sheer endless list of web shops into one overall website. Currently, Coolblue consists of hundreds of separate web shops, each with their own specialty, like pdashop.be, baardtrimmershop.nl and seniorentelefoonstore.be. It decided to that to immediately showcase what that web shop sold, but thanks to its highly familiar name, it no longer needs to create that distinction.
Towards 1 billion euro
Coolblue may also reach its ambition, 1 billion euro turnover in 2018, much faster. Its current goal is to generate a 1.2 billion euro turnover in 2017, up from 857 million euro in 2016 (242 million came from Belgium). Belgian turnover growth, at 36 %, was lower than its overall growth pace, at 55 %. “It is true our Belgian growth is not as high as in the Netherlands, but we will try to achieve another sizeable turnover growth this year.”
Our increased activity in Belgium also means the company needs more employees. “We had about 200 employees at the start of the year, but we are slowly moving towards 500”, De Clercq added.