One in three Belgian Web surfers have made an online purchase, and 42.5 percent say they will quite probably do so in the near future, according to Belgian Internet Mapping study (BIM®) from InSites.
Belgians spent an average of 13,000 francs online on their last purchase on the Net, but the median amount spent is only 2,000 francs. The most popular items purchased via the Internet remain low-risk, low-price products such as books, software and CDs. Computer hardware and travel items are gaining in importance on the Internet market, according to InSites.
Internet shoppers in Belgium place an average of 8 or 9 product orders over the Internet each year, the study found. In 1999, Belgians will spend 16 billion francs over the Net, with 69 percent of the purchases made by end consumers and the rest by people acting in the course of business.
Internet experience seems to be a determining factor in whether people buy online, with half of people with a minimum of two years’ Internet experience having already made purchases, whereas with newcomers (connected during 1999), the figure is only 14 percent.
With 35 percent of Belgians making an online purchase, the country trails The Netherlands (38 percent) and the UK (39 percent) in online buying power, according to the study.
Regular Internet users (those who have surfed the Net at some point during the last two weeks) constitute 40 percent of all Belgians with an Internet connection. Eleven percent of Belgian Internet users have an Internet connection at home and 26 percent at work.
Sixty-one percent of the surfers are Dutch speaking, and 65 percent have been through tertiary education (27 percent have been to university). Men constitute 62 percent of surfers and 49 percent are between 25 and 44 years of age. Forty percent of Belgian online users have at least one child under age 16.
Approximately 18 percent of Belgians began using the Internet in the first half of 1999. Most of these new users are women, teenagers, and people over age 65, according to the study. Forty percent of Belgian Internet users connect to the Internet every day, and 9 percent sit in front of the monitor for more than three hours.
Most Belgian users use the Internet for both work and personal use. Only 14 percent use the Web exclusively for private purposes, and 3 percent exclusively for work purposes.