December, the month of Christmas and New Years'. Lots of celebrations meaning some bigger expenses. This wasn't any different this year even with corona. We just did it on our own and just handed over the gifts outside. We went a little wild with food but my income was higher so it balanced things out a little bit.
Last Updated on January 5, 2021 by Mr. FightToFIRE
Online shopping is here to stay. In 2018 Belgians bought online for over 1.8 billion euros, an increase of 8% compared to 2017 and +29% compared to 2015.
2020 saw a further increase in physical goods but an overall drop in online sales because of holiday trips, concert tickets, and service cheque sales completely collapsing. This shows there is still a lot of growth potential in Belgium.
Explosive growth is only natural as there are a lot of benefits to online shopping:
- It’s easier to compare
- You don’t have to move physically to a store
- There are millions of products at your fingertips only a search away
Putting all of these benefits together inadvertently will save you money. Finding the right shop is important.
Because the internet is such a big place, this guide helps you find the right webshop for the product you are looking for so you can do your online shopping in Belgium safely.
The online sites I mention here are my top picks for online shopping in Belgium. I ordered them category so it’s easy to find the sites for your shopping need.
Electronics — Tweakers.net and Hardware.info
Technically (pun intended 😉 ) they are almost one and the same nowadays thanks to a recent merger of their newsrooms. But when it comes to comparing prices online during your hunt online for the best electronics prices, both sites are a must when it comes to anything electronics.
- Hardware.info focuses solely on hardware and gives you clear information about computer hardware and consumer electronics.
- Tweakers.net has a more general approach to anything tech and focuses more on the ‘tweaker’ aka a person interested in ‘tweaking’ electronics.
Both Dutch tech sites offer an extensive comparison tool that helps you find the cheapest price for any electronic gadget your heart desires.
The quickest way to find what you are looking for is by simply searching for it through Hardware.info‘s search bar.
Just type in what you are looking for, e.g., ‘Apple Watch’, and you immediately get a selection of products.
By clicking on the product you are interested in, you get an overview of all the available shops that offer this product with the cheapest one on top.
This applies to all products. Need advice on a new laptop or computer, they got you covered. Once you found what you are looking at at the best price you can immediately go to the shop and checkout.
It’s always good to compare a bit more, so Tweakers.net also has an amazing comparison tool to help you find the best deal.
Tweakers.net works essentially the same. By searching through their search bar you get a list of items and once you click through, you get a beautiful overview of the product you are looking for with the cheapest price up top. Their layout is a bit different compared to Hardware.info.
On Tweakers.net you get an overview of the different versions of a product. By selecting your preferred version, you come to a similar price comparison chart.
Their coolest feature is without a doubt the price evolution graph showing the historic pricing of the product you researched.
Both sites offer more than just their humongous list of products:
- Extensive filtering to find the perfect fit.
- Thousands of reviews to make sure you get the right product for your need.
- A thriving community that backs them up making them a lively place to hang around. On their forums, you can ask for any help you could possibly need.
- A second-hand market place where you can buy or sell second-hand electronics.
Clothing — Zalando
They have over 3,000 brands in their catalog. Everything from 10DAYS to Adidas, all the way to Ziener. And you aren’t limited to clothes, they have accessories, as well as beauty products such as perfume.
Zalando.be helps you find the perfect dress or trousers for any occasion. Each product has an extensive description making sure you get exactly what you are looking for. Their 100 days return policy and review system give you worry-free shopping.
The only real downside that I have noticed is that it’s not always clear what kind of quality you can expect, even though you can search for the brand and look at the product details it’s only after you receive the product that you know exactly what you paid for.
Will their catalog is massive, they don’t offer all brands, especially certain quality brands are missing. What do I mean? Take the Belgian shirt-brand Formen. This quality shirt maker, of which I’m a huge fan by the way, isn’t available at Zalando. Of course, Formen has their own webshop, but it just goes to show, not everything is on Zalando.be.
Other safe online shopping options for clothes are:
Second-hand — 2dehands.be
2dehans.be has declined a bit over the years, especially after it got bought by eBay in 2013 but it remains the largest secondhand site in Belgium. They still offer some good deals, but you have to be extra careful of scammers. They are trying to improve but they have a long way to go. The amount of fishy or downright scammy postings has increased over the years.
This issue also plagues Facebook MarketPlace, however to a lesser degree since it’s linked to Facebook. They offer better security and it’s easier to know who you are dealing with. Nonetheless, I advise anyone that is looking to purchase second-hand goods, to take a look at SafeOnweb’s tips.
Groceries — Collect & Go (by Colruyt)
Collect & Go, Colruyt’s online grocery site and the app is my top pick for online grocery shopping.
In the past ordering groceries online wasn’t the greatest in Belgium but this got improved over the past few years. Now the cheapest bulk grocery store, Colruyt, has an excellent online grocery service.
Colruyt is especially interesting when you order in bulk. This makes it less interesting for people living in smaller apartments with less storage area -like myself- but a good alternative is Shop&Go by Delhaize albeit a bit more expensive.
Shop&Go is also recommended when you are looking for more special products like passion fruits or certain herbs and spices though it’s more expensive.
Unfortunately for both the convenience comes at a price, a price I haven’t been willing to pay since I also like to see my food, especially fresh produce. You have to pay service/delivery costs. it’s not a huge amount but it does add over time. For Colruyt it’s 5.50 EUR. Delhaize has a more complex price structure detailed on their site but in general, it can go from 4.95 EUR to 12.95 EUR with supplements for certain goods.
Furniture – IKEA
There is no way around IKEA is there? When it comes to cheap yet decent furniture everyone thinks of IKEA, and with good reason. Even when looking shopping online for furniture, IKEA is a must-visit.
They have their entire catalog online in a neat and clean design that easy to navigate. What more can a customer ask for.
IKEA.be lets you search, check out their products by type, living space (kitchen, bathroom, etc.) or, if you lack inspiration, you guessed it, inspiration!
I bought my fair chair of IKEA stuff, both online and offline. Both experiences were good and I can’t say I have anything to complain about, even during the strange year that was 2020. Though here as well does the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies.
Not that you won’t enjoy it, the IKEA bed me and my wife are using at the moment, was original bought for my sister during her student years, that was 10 years ago. And while the slatted bottom is nearing its end, the frame is still good as new.
Books – Bol.com
Quite a lot of online choices when it comes to books. I’d like to highlight 2 stores for different reasons:
- Amazon.nl – A humongous offer of paperback and ebooks.
- Bol.com – Excellent selection of new Dutch books at a reasonable price
Some of the books that I have purchased from bol.com are:
A good alternative is De Slegte. They are a Belgian book store best know for its second-hand book offer. You can really get some excellent second-hand books from here as well.
Almost Everything — Amazon.nl and Bol.com
Amazon.de and bol.com are 2 options for ‘everything else’. Why Amazon and bol.com then? Well, these two offer the best price for anything you are looking for.
Many web shops offer diverse options of almost everything, but bol.com and amazon are trustworthy and user-friendly, with a rapid and often free next-day delivery.
I recommend looking at both at the same time before buying anything. Chances are that one is sometimes cheaper than the other. Having one specific favorite is difficult, but if I had to choose, I’d go with amazon. Overall I have noticed they have a wider range and usually at a cheaper price.
AliExpress is also worth a look though you need to be just as cautious as with the second-hand online websites. There are some great deals to be had, but you have to be critical of the offers. Like always, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Will a Bluetooth speaker, not even 1/10th of a JBL Bluetooth speaker work just as well? Doubtful.
Tips for online shopping
Online shopping in Belgium has really taken off, and with this guide, it’s tempting to do all your shopping online from now, but be careful. Keep these tips in mind before pressing that buy button.
- Not everything is necessary cheaper online. Don’t forget to have a quick look at your local shop. You’d be surprised what they have to offer and sometimes at an even cheaper price than online!
- While it’s easy, don’t fall into the trap of buying what you want. Be mindful of your expenses. Before buying something, make sure you actually need it.
- Let some time go over before you actually buy. Sometimes by waiting for the next day we realize we can wait with this purchase and we just wanted to get the newest smartphone even though the current one still works fine.
- Earn money while shopping online by using cashback!
- Pay attention to the currency you pay in in your online shop. Especially with AliExpress, you might be buying in a different currency.
- Be safe! Take care of yourself and don’t fall for scammers. Read SafeOnWeb’s tips for a safe web shopping experience.