Worldwide E-Commerce Penetration Stands at 10 Percent

A worldwide study of e-commerce by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) Interactive found that among Internet users around the globe, 10 percent shop online during a month. In addition, 15 percent of users say they have considered shopping online, but have not yet done so.

The research is based on more than 30,000 interviews in 27 countries on four continents. Not surprisingly, it found that the US has the highest proportion of Internet users (58 percent of population) and also the highest proportion of shoppers (27 percent). In contrast, only 1 percent of users currently shop online in both Thailand and Turkey.

Among the findings of the survey:

  • Across all countries surveyed, average Internet usage stands at 27 percent
  • 15 percent of all users in these countries plan to shop online within the next six months
  • 13 percent of all users have bought products or services offline as a direct result of information found online
  • 29 percent of users who have shopped online have purchased books, with 20 percent purchasing CDs or equivalent

“These findings are impressive,” said Ulf Andersen, director of strategic marketing for TNS Interactive. “They suggest that the potential for online shopping among existing Internet users worldwide may realistically double in a relatively short time if those users who say they have considered shopping online, but have not yet done so, can be turned into actual shoppers. In addition, a lot of Internet users are gathering information online, but doing their shopping outside the Internet.”

According to Andersen, there are clearly a number of barriers to overcome before online shopping really takes off globally. The Internet is still a relatively new channel for most users and many are still skeptical about it. E-commerce businesses also need to give more thought to how they present the online shopping experience to potential customers. Local governments and tax laws also stand in the way.

Interesting local differences have emerged among the Internet-related shopping behavior in different countries. In India, for example, 83 percent of users have never shopped online and have no plans to do so, compared with 36 percent in the US. The purchase of food and grocery products online is highest in Hong Kong (32 percent of users), leisure travel is highest in France (44 percent) and toiletries and cosmetics are highest in Japan (12 percent), compared to virtually none in the UK. Internet users in France buy the most stock and mutual funds online — 17 percent, compared to 2 percent in the UK. More than one in five (22 percent) of online shoppers in the US purchased clothes online compared to 10 percent in the UK.

In the UK, the study found that 18 percent of the users had bought goods or services online during the past month. An additional 13 percent said they plan to shop online within the next six months. At the same time, just over 10 percent of the users said they considered buying online, but then decided against it.

“These findings suggest that there is considerable potential to double the UK online shopping marketplace in a relatively short time frame,” said Pete Cape, Director, Taylor Nelson Sofres Interactive. “Not only is there a significant minority of Internet users who are likely to become online shoppers by the end of the year, but there is also an opportunity for e-commerce marketers to focus on converting interested online browsers into actual shoppers.”

According to the study, more than a quarter (27 percent) of Britons are Internet users. Easily the most popular online purchase is books, bought by almost 40 percent, followed by music, bought by 19 percent.

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