Offline Brands Show Well in Europe

Much has been written about the strong showing of offline brands during the 2000 holiday season in the United States, but research by Nielsen//NetRatings points to the trend catching on worldwide, particularly in Britain.

E-commerce traffic to the Web sites of traditional offline retailers in Britain grew by a higher percentage from October to November 2000 than traffic to the entire e-commerce sector.

“The crucial advantage these sites have over their pure-play counterparts is trust,” said David Day, director of analytics for ACNielsen eRatings.com. “In a year when e-commerce seemed to receive little but bad publicity, the support offered to consumers by a familiar name was worth more than any advertising.”

Day also said that many of the offline brands in Britain started their holiday preparations and marketing early, using leaflets and signs in stores to alert customers of their online presence. Many e-tailers made an effort to include even their lowest-ticket items in their Web sites, and encouraged price-comparison shopping, recognizing price comparisons as an important reason people go online.

According to NOP Research Group, British online shoppers spend more on buying vacations and travel than any other online purchase. NOP’s Internet User Profile Survey estimates that 480,000 people shopped for vacations and travel online in the four weeks leading up to Christmas 2000, spending an average of £420 a head, well ahead of the 335,000 online grocery shoppers who spent an average of £113 each. And the prime travel season is just beginning.

“Given that we are now in the middle of the main holiday booking period, we expect to see online holiday expenditure rise substantially,” said Carl Geraghty, senior researcher at NOP.

Satisfaction with online shopping remains extraordinarily high in Britain, NOP found, with only 2 percent of online shoppers expressing overall dissatisfaction with the process. Even the most popular complaints attracted fewer than one in ten dissatisfied online customers. Nine percent were dissatisfied with the cost of delivery and 8 percent with the speed of delivery. Only 1 percent said that they were dissatisfied with the condition of the goods on arrival.

Nielsen//NetRatings data from France and Germany suggests that offline brands on the European continent aren’t quite as adept at leveraging their brand online as their American and British counterparts. In Germany, none of the top 10 e-commerce brands in the weeks preceding Christmas were offline brands. The German scene was dominated by book and gift retailers, auctions, and online shopping portals. In France, five offline brands were included in the top 20 e-commerce sites.

“France is a particularly fascinating e-commerce example because it has largely resisted the temptation of the big American brands,” Day said. “The recently launched Amazon.fr has caught the online public’s imagination, but Amazon has never performed as well in France as it has the other major European markets. One might expect local loyalty to mean that French clicks-and-mortar brands would do especially well, but currently French pureplays are benefiting just as much.”

Data from Jupiter Media Metrix revealed that most home Internet users in Germany and Britain visited retail Web sites during the second week of December. The French used retail sites the most in the first week of December.


Top Retail Sites in UK, Germany & France
Home users, December 2000
Rank Site Unique
Visitors

(000)
Reach %
UK
1. Amazon.co.uk 1,895 15.0
2. Amazon.com 1,060 8.4
3. Argos.co.uk 702 5.5
4. Tesco.co.uk 644 5.1
5. Dixons.co.uk 482 3.8
Germany
1. Amazon.de 2,605 22.3
2. Bol.de 1,055 9.0
3. Quelle.de 758 6.5
4. Amazon.com 717 6.1
5. Handy.de 596 5.1
France
1. FNAC.com 865 12.7
2. Alapage.com 548 8.0
3. Amazon.fr 315 4.6
4. Toobo.com 298 4.4
5. LetsBuyIt.com 273 4.0
Source: Jupiter MMXI

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