When it comes to online shopping the British are the most avid online shoppers in Europe, while one in four Europeans with access to the internet purchased products or services online at least once a week in 2016.
The findings come from a MasterCard survey which reveals interesting differences from country to country in terms of how often people shop online, what types of things they purchase, and their preferred payment methods. At a time when European policy makers are looking to break down barriers to cross-border e-commerce, the Masterindex highlights different national attitudes to buying from sites in other countries.
UK internet users come out as the most regular users of e-commerce in Europe overall. About 8% of the UK population shops online every day, and 41% shop online every week. This is the highest in Europe, followed by 32% in Ireland. In contrast, Finns (17%), Estonians (16%) and Danes (16%) are far less likely to buy something on the internet at least once a week.
Across Europe there is a significant increase in activity when comparing daily to weekly frequency. This is because the types of things people buy online are less likely to be everyday items. Clothing and footwear is by far the most popular category overall (48% European average) followed by tickets (34%), electronics (33%) and books (31%).
Brits who shop online (33%) are twice as likely to buy their groceries on the internet as their nearest continental neighbours in the Netherlands (16%), France (15%) and Belgium (13%);
Attitudes also vary on preferred methods of buying online. In the Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands and Poland online banking is twice as popular as cards. But in countries UK and Ireland, cards remain the most popular payment methods by some distance.
The survey also looked at new payment methods such as e-wallets, banking apps and QR code scanning – indicating strong potential for growth in these areas.
While there is a clear openness across Europe to try out new technologies, this interest does not always correlate with actual use. For example while Spanish internet shoppers are the most enthusiastic about e-wallets in theory, they lag behind Norwegians (20%), Greeks (20%), and Finns (19%) when it comes to current mobile use of this technology.
Despite different trends from country to country, people across Europe tend to share similar concerns about online shopping. Fear of fraud is the number one reason for not buying online in all countries surveyed.
Among the key factors to delivering on growth, both cross-border and domestically, appear to be continued efforts to build trust and confidence in e-commerce, and, critically, ever improving online offers and conditions.