Since moving to NL, I’ve started doing most of my “useful” shopping online. It all stemmed from necessity. We didn’t know any better when we moved here, so our first two weeks in The Hague were spent buying: €100 kettle, €100 toaster, furniture in the five digits from merchants who did not accept credit cards, cheapy hair dryer/tongs (this I wouldn’t mind paying top dollar for but couldn’t find anyone who took me seriously – au naturel is the preferred look here), etc.; but the wake-up call was the €22 ice cube tray, which we did not buy. In the early days, we’d pound the streets of Noordeinde and Prinsesstraat, hoping to stock up our house that way. Sorta like blundering into a pinkie-sized Knightsbridge perhaps, looking to score a deal. Or Gangnam. Or Bloor-Yorkville.
Point being, there are lots of other options once you get over the settling-in frenzy. Hema and Blokker are good for basic necessities, but I digress from the focus of this post. Many Dutch and internationals shop online because the selection and prices are just a lot better. It’s a lot easier to do price comparison and you don’t have to wait an eternity to be served/endure the loyalty card chat.
In general, clothes and shoes are not a perfect fit for online shopping, unless returns are free and painless. I have been very pleased with Amazon UK and Amazon DE for getting stuff to me fast – not always free, but cheap. Amazon US fails me time and time again in NL. It’s something about customs. Watch out for this – really holds up the shipping process and racks up the cost (unknown at point of ordering). I have relatives in the UK, so my orders from John Lewis, JojoMamanBebe, Boots, make it to me free as well. Apart from that, Joules ships for OK charges; Asos ships everywhere (free) – great clothes for all price ranges – and Beauty Bay (free) is my perennial lifesaver. Seriously, you can’t get Mario Badescu anywhere here.
Some Dutch sites I’ve used but may or may not love: Albert Heijn – love for sure. Delivery charges are around €7 but I get my money’s worth of sweat and tears from the delivery guy. They only have one person per truck doing both driving and running up and down steep stairs with huge crates of food! AH is also linked up with Etos and Gall&Gall so you can get your drugs/alcohol delivered with your raw steak. Justeat.nl is handy for food orders and is reliable, except the day my dinner arrived at 1:30p.m. Wehkamp.nl did a dodgy on me when it processed my order for an electric fan, only to come back 3 days later to say they had run out. Guess who was melting into a puddle meanwhile. Beslist is a little confusing because they seem to sell a hodgepodge of things – only that they don’t really sell it but rather give you a bunch of links to pictures and prices on other people’s sites. Fonq.nl was fast and free with my blood pressure monitor. While searching for stuff on Dutch sites, it helps to translate your keyword first, then plug it in. (Same goes for the German sites). Paying for all this is handiest with a Dutch debit card (“iDEAL” system) because they charge for credit cards (MC/Visa), and have ganged-up against AMEX.
Now, I still can’t find anyone to deliver me a 20 kilo bag of rice. Ideas?