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.

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