The British are the most avid online shoppers in Europe according to Masterindex 2017, a new Mastercard report on e-commerce and payment trends across the continent. The report included a survey 43,000 consumers in 23 European markets and it suggests that one in four Europeans with access to the internet purchased products or services online at least once a week in 2016.
While uptake of e-commerce is high across Europe, the research 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.
How often are people shopping online? UK internet users come out as the most regular users of e-commerce in Europe overall. 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.
‘Our deep understanding of how people across Europe are embracing digital behaviours enables all of us at Mastercard to work with our partners across the region and build the products, solutions and technology that makes life that little bit more simple. In an increasingly complex and digital environment Mastercard is building the solutions that get us from to-do, to done in a way that doesn’t compromise on efficiency and security’, says Javier Perez, president, Mastercard Europe.
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.