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E-Shopping Around the World

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Posted July 23, 2002 By Robyn Greenspan     Feedback

The news is optimistic but the e-commerce industry needs to address security concerns, an annual global report finds.

Three years worth of data, 37 countries, 42,000 interviews, and the results can be summarized rather quickly: While global Internet usage has grown slightly (up from 31 percent in 2001 to 34 percent in 2002), the proportion of users making a purchase has remained unchanged at 15 percent. However, an increase in the number of people online has helped to ensure that e-commerce is growing — the growth in Internet usage/penetration means that more people (in real terms) are shopping online.

The findings come from an annual report by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), which analyzes Internet penetration, e-commerce penetration, products purchased online, reasons for not purchasing products online, and e-commerce spending among the 37 evaluated countries.

The report found that the biggest impediment to e-commerce is security, which those who have not shopped online cite as a serious obstacle. Almost one-third (30 percent) of Internet users who have not shopped online stated that they didn't want to give credit card details (up by 5 percent from 2001) and 28 percent cited general security concerns. Germany, as in 2001, was the most reluctant nation to provide credit card details (73 percent).

Security concerns have been evident in the reports over the last three years. Arno Hummerston, head of TNS Interactive Solutions, Worldwide said that their research has highlighted security issues as the main reason for people choosing not to purchase online, yet the industry seems to have done little to address these concerns. "Although some of these concerns are probably driven by a reluctance to shop across borders and a mistrust of new dot-com brands, in the current global economic climate it is particularly important for the e-commerce industry to put users' minds at ease."

Who's shopping?
  • 28 percent of Internet users globally have either shopped online or plan to do so in the next six months, and 18 percent of all Internet users worldwide say that they plan to shop online in the next six months.
  • Some 16 percent of men using the Internet have shopped online compared with 13 percent of women.

Where are they from?

  • The USA, for the third year running, is the nation with the greatest proportion of online shoppers, at 32 percent of all Internet users, despite dropping a point. This compares with the static global average of 15 percent.
  • In Bulgaria, Ukraine and Romania, 2 percent or less of the online population shop online. Asia Pacific has seen an overall rise in online shopping, mainly led by a boom in South Korea where 31 percent of Internet users have shopped online. France and Norway have seen big increases in online shoppers over the past year, and Ukraine, Australia, Czech Republic and Finland have seen the biggest drops in online shopping activity.

What are they buying?

  • Books and CDs continue to be the most popular items bought online for the 3rd consecutive year. However, as in 2001, smaller proportions have purchased these items when compared to the last year.
  • Holidays and leisure travel bookings have now been made by 11 percent of online shoppers — overtaking PC hardware and software purchases which were more popular in 2001.
  • South Korea and the USA buy the most clothes online, at 25 percent of all e-shoppers. Germany has the most music/CD buyers at 24 percent. Online shoppers in Taiwan purchase the most books online (39 percent). Holidays or leisure travel purchased online are most popular in Ireland (28 percent) and Norway (27 percent).

Meanwhile, comScore Media Metrix is helping to spread some e-commerce optimism with reports that total online sales for the second quarter of 2002 set a record of $17.5 billion — a gain of 41 percent over 2001's figures. Online travel grew 46 percent to $7.8 billion, another record level, and non-travel sales rose 28 percent to $9.7 billion.

"With few other sectors of the economy turning in double-digit growth, the Web continues to offer compelling opportunities as a sales and marketing channel," said Stephen Kim, senior vice president of the comScore Media Metrix division of comScore Networks.

Further analysis from comScore Media Metrix reveals:

  • The top product categories (excluding travel) according to second quarter 2002 consumer sales were: computer hardware, up 46 percent versus year-ago to $2.3 billion; office supplies, up 72 percent to $1.5 billion; apparel and accessories, up seven percent to $1.3 billion.
  • The categories showing the most growth with increases in the second quarter of 2002 versus year-ago were: furniture and appliances, up 100 percent to $179 million; home and garden, up 78 percent to $442 million; and toys, up 50 percent to $114 million.
  • Major product categories posting significant sales declines in the second quarter of 2002 versus year-ago were: consumer electronics, down 11 percent to $716 million; and music, which declined 28 percent to $193 million.

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