US Has Most E-Commerce Consumers

A survey of 30,000 consumers in 30 nations by Roper Starch Worldwide found that the US not only has the fastest-growing number of Internet users, but the largest proportion of e-commerce consumers.

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Americans in every age group lead the world in Internet usage, Roper Starch found. Teenagers 13-19 are America’s No. 1 Internet generation, with 41 percent using online services, followed by 30-39 year-olds (33 percent), 20-29 year-olds (31 percent) and 40-49 year-olds (30 percent). Globally, teens and 20-29 year-olds each weigh in at 14 percent online (see table).

“What we are seeing is that Web literacy is the first step, followed by the growth of Web usage as an information medium and then the development of e-commerce,” said Xiaoyan Zhao, a senior VP of Roper Starch Worldwide. “While we expect Internet access to spread more widely as deregulation and competition, particularly overseas, drive down costs, information-gathering will remain a primary function of the Internet for some time to come.”

For the majority of Internet users worldwide, the Internet’s information benefits remain the leading attraction (56 percent), followed by work-related reasons (38 percent), and learning (36 percent). Globally, only 8 percent of Internet users cite buying online as a reason for using the Internet.

Americans are more likely to use the Internet for news (23 percent versus 20 percent), relaxation (19 percent versus 16 percent), and buying online (12 percent vs. 8 percent) than Internet users in other nations, the study found.

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“At this stage of the Internet’s growth and the growth of e-commerce, there are many more browsers than buyers,” Zhao said. “While millions may search the Web for product information, it appears they may still buy in traditional stores for a variety of reasons.”

Those reasons once again include security and privacy concerns, as well as long delivery cycles, and high shipping costs.

The study also found that executives are more likely to buy online than white- and blue-collar workers, even though an equal percentage of all three gain product information online.

According to the survey, the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK are the top markets for online shopping and banking. In the US, 5 percent of consumers have made a purchase on the Web and 3 percent have conducted online banking transactions. In Canada, 3 percent have bought, and the same percentage have banked online. In both Australia and the UK, 2 percent have purchased online and 1 percent have banked online.

In the 30 markets covered in the survey, only 1 of every 100 consumers shops on the Internet.

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