Gap Exists in UK E-Commerce

The latest Quarterly Internet Survey of residential Internet users in the UK conducted by Durlacher found that 30 percent of the users have made a purchase online, but a significant gap exists between those willing to purchase online and those that have.

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Either existing e-commerce vendors are not providing adequate services or there are genuine niches in which no vendors operate, the report found. Some of the largest differences lie in the demand for event tickets, travel services, and music and video products, according to Durlacher. However, despite the demand, few users have bought health and beauty products, motor vehicles, clothes, or financial services online. The unwillingness of those surveyed to make a purchase still centers on security issues, while only 2 percent cited the “personal touch” of offline stores.

Effects on Traditional Media

The Durlacher survey also found that the traditional media have been affected by Internet use. The increasing penetration of the Internet into homes and places of employment and its acceptance by a wider demographic will undoubtedly result in a decline in growth of the traditional media, Durlacher reported.

More than one-third (34 percent) of those surveyed by Durlacher said TV viewing has at least partially been replaced by the Internet. As for the Net’s affect on newspapers, 86 percent of those surveyed feel that their newspaper reading habits are unchanged by Internet use. Sixty-three percent believe that their newspaper habits will still be unaffected by the Internet in two years. More than half (53 percent) of users believe that their shopping habits will have changed courtesy of the Internet in two years.

For 7 percent of those surveyed, the Internet has almost completely or has completely replaced letter writing, and only 43 percent of users claim the Internet has not affected their letter-writing habits. Thirteen percent of those surveyed by Durlacher said the Internet has in some way altered their sleeping habits.

The UK residential Internet market has grown from 5 percent of the population in June of 1997 to 11 percent in December of 1998, according to Durlacher. In that time, Durlacher has found the profile of the Internet user has remained relatively unchanged. Most British users are male, live in the south of England, and are of a high social grade. There appears to be a widening gap between Internet users and non-Internet users that may have serious implication in the future, Durlacher reports.

The Quarterly Internet Report was based on interviews with 4,000 homes across the UK.

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