Where in the World is the Best E-Commerce?

The United States, Finland, Iceland, Canada and the Netherlands ranked highest in e-commerce potential among 47 nations, according to a report by META Group.

The 2001 World E-Commerce and Internet Market Report (WECIM), measured the e-commerce potential and readiness of 47 nations based on the following new-economy indicators: amount of financial transactions generated, literacy and education rates, market potential, globalization practices and technological sophistication. Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Ireland and New Zealand rounded off the list of top 10 countries.

“Despite the cooling of the global economy and digital divide problems in many countries, e-commerce development is moving forward in the majority of countries surveyed,” said Howard Rubin, author of the study and executive vice president and META Group research fellow. “There is still good reason for businesses that have invested heavily in e-commerce development to be optimistic in terms of international marketing.”

With the most wired population on earth, the United States is the best country to initiate e-commerce and Internet marketing operations. Canada finished solidly in most new-economy categories and is also considered a good e-commerce investment.

In Europe, northern European countries have been far quicker to embrace technology and e-commerce than southern European countries. Scandinavian countries have high rates of online financial transactions, technological sophistication, education and economic literacy. Britain, Ireland, France and Germany also generated good results in these categories. Southern European countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece did not rank well. Weather, poverty, cultural resistance to information technology and lack of venture capital are reasons for the slower e-commerce growth.

Asia produced varying results among different countries. South Korea and Malaysia are making positive strides economically and are good areas for e-commerce investment despite Japan’s economic crisis. The report found that prospects also look good for Australia and New Zealand. Both countries have literate, educated, technologically savvy “netizens” who are willing to spend money over the Internet.

Poverty and lack of technological infrastructure still hamper many Latin American countries, the report found. However, Brazil could be a good place for e-commerce in the near future. Venezuela, Argentina, and Colombia must first deal with more pressing economic woes before devoting attention to the e-commerce and high-tech areas.

The new economy indicator for financial transactions takes into account the number of credit cards issued per person per year, and credit card spending. The top five countries are Iceland, Luxembourg, Britain, the United States and Canada.

Literacy and education rates track the ability to meet the educational needs of a competitive economy. The top nations for the category are Finland, Australia, Canada, Iceland and the United States.

Market potential tracks the standard of living and retail sales. The top five countries are the United States, Finland, Iceland, Canada and Taiwan.

Globalization is the willingness to accept foreign economic influence and embrace the global capital market. The top five are the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Finland, Ireland and Sweden.

Finally, technological sophistication keeps track of the number of computers and Internet connections. This category was led by the United States, Finland, Iceland, Canada and Taiwan.

The WECIM report measures from three to six quantitative indicators within each of the five categories. Averages are calculated through statistical techniques, including factor value normalization and standard deviation.

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