Americans have long led the rest of the world in regard to the Internet, so it should come as no surprise that in the online retail arena, Europe is looking up at the US companies.
A report by the British market research firm Fletcher Research has found that retailers in the UK are not offering their customers incentives to buy online. Companies in the UK risk being dominated by American companies because those retailers that offer the best services are likely to be leaders regardless of their nationality, Fletcher reported.
E-commerce in Spain has been particularly slow to catch on. According to Rodolfo Carpentier, president of CommerceNet Spain, the largest online retailer of books to Spanish Internet users was US-based Amazon.com.
Researchers are still predicting that European e-commerce will come into its own in the next century. Fletcher estimates the UK market will be worth STG 3 billion by 2003. Much like the US, computer hardware and software will be a big part of the market, perhaps as much as 16 percent, Fletcher forecasts. Travel purchases will make up 7 percent, and music will be worth STG 355 million, or six percent of the market, according to Fletcher.
Online commerce with consumers is something new to Europeans. Frost & Sullivan research said that 92 percent of the e-commerce transactions in Europe in 1997 were of the business-to-business variety. The same report by Frost & Sullivan also predicted e-commerce revenue in Europe to reach $8 billion by 2004.
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