RealTime IT News

Why E-Commerce Lags in Europe

Only four percent of households in France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK have purchased online in the past three months, largely due to lack of experience and security concerns, says a new report.

European shoppers resemble early online shoppers in the U.S. -- well-educated, high-income, urban males who mainly buy CDs, books and software, says the Technographics Europe Report from Forrester Research's European operation.

These early European shoppers also demonstrate important cultural differences that reflect national patterns in preferred payment and delivery method.

"Although online behavior in Europe varies by country, nationality is not always the strongest predictor of online shopping behavior," said Reineke Reitsma, analyst for Technographics Europe.

"Forrester's segmentation found that consumers' attitudes toward the Net, which are largely shaped by experience and trust, are a stronger indicator of when consumers will shop online."

To better understand what Europe's Net shoppers will look like in 2004, Forrester segmented current users to look for significant clusters based on online behavior.

Today's online consumers fall into one of four categories, the report says, each with distinct behaviors and attitudes: Pioneer Internetters, Generation Next, Future Buyers, and Shopping Hold-Outs.

Pioneers were the first Europeans on the Internet. Career-focused and optimistic about technology, more than 60 percent of the consumers in this category bank online and 36 percent buy stocks.

Consumers in the Generation Next category have been online for a short time but are already active, spending an average of 5.4 hours per week online. They are entertainment-focused in both their online activities and purchases, and they are the most likely to consider price an issue when buying online.

Future Buyers have been online less than two years and are not yet making online purchases. Their trust in the medium is low. But this segment will grow quickly as they overcome concerns about security and discover the convenience of online shopping.

Finally, the Shopping Hold-Outs, who make up 40 percent of Europe's online population, have no plans to start shopping online in the next six months.

"As each of these groups gains experience, trust, and a need for online shopping's benefits, these patterns will shift," said Reitsma.

"Over the next five years, Europe's online population will go mainstream, bringing national characteristics to the Net. Retailers will respond with the diversity shoppers demand. The result will be a distinctly more European Internet, with fashion sites blooming in France and price-comparison sites popping up in the Netherlands."

Forrester surveyed nearly 17,000 European consumers for the report, and found that those Europeans who have shopped online said they are satisfied with the experience and 90 percent said they plan to continue making e-commerce purchases.

Forrester's European Research Centers are located in Amsterdam, Netherlands and London.