EUROPEAN REVIEW

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ISSUE 56 page 8

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Online buyers increase but prefer to shop in their own country
 A RECENT REPORT TO THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION HAS HIGHLIGHTED the growth in online shopping across the EU. Between 2005 and 2010 the percentage of consumers in the EU who had purchased goods and services over the Internet doubled from 20% to 40%. However most of the increase was accounted for by the richer countries of northern and western Europe where e-commerce was already firmly established. Sweden, Denmark and the UK recorded rises of nearly 50% whereas in Romania and Bulgaria there were hardly any more internet buyers than there were five years ago. Not surprisingly this statistic is influenced by the numbers of people actually connected to the Internet: just over 30% of households in Bulgaria as opposed to 90% in the Netherlands. The second outstanding feature of the report is the reluctance of shoppers to buy from web sites based abroad. Only 23% of online consumers purchased from a seller based in another Member State in 2010. Although there are several EU directives that apply to cross-border transactions, many would-be online consumers were put off by fear of fraud, inability to get redress if something went wrong,
OnlineShop

uncertainty of delivery and confusion resulting from different domestic laws on consumer rights. Language and cultural barriers were also mentioned as disincentives.
From the point of view of the sellers not much has changed over the last five years, Only 14% of EU enterprises use the Internet as a sales channel. This figure varies significantly between countries with over 25% of Belgian firms selling online compared to less than 5% in Bulgaria. The web is most popular in the housing sector and least used in construction. A new phenomenon identified in the report is the emergence of the ‘prosumer’, individuals who regularly buy on the web but who also sell and sometimes create the content that they offer for sale. Sites such as eBay make it easy to find a buyer for unwanted goods while YouTube and similar platforms provide an audience for user-created audio/video. In 2010 the remarkable figure of 13% of EU citizens had sold online and these consumer-to-consumer transactions are not covered by existing EU legislation.

Consumers in EU-27 who have used the internet for selling goods and services (% of all individuals)

 

 

 Web sites and reports mentioned in this issue are available at:
 Consumer behaviour in a digital environment
 APSIS4All (Accessible Personalised Services in PDTs for All) pilot
 Industrial relations and sustainability: the role of social partners in the transition towards a green economy:
Talking ‘holes in the wall’ to aid accessibility
 A NEW PROJECT FUNDED BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION is setting out to remedy the lack of facilities for disabled people and the elderly provided by public digital terminals (PDTs) in Europe. These machines include those vending public transport tickets, bank cash dispensers and public information kiosks. According to the Commission the EU is falling behind countries such as the USA and Canada where, for instance, nearly all cash machines (ATMs) have voice capability compared to 38% in Europe. Other helpful features that could be employed include a contactless card that tells the machine the requirements of the user, mobile phones that interact with the PDT as well as keypads placed within reach of wheelchair occupants, and Braille labels. The APSIS4All project seeks to design new interfaces to assist these customers and groups such as foreign tourists. It is to begin with a trial of 3,000 people using ATMs in Barcelona and ticket machines in Paderborn, Germany. Neelie Kroes, the Commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda said ‘Public self-service terminals can be found everywhere, and their numbers keep increasing. Yet, many present a challenge for persons with disability or for some elderly persons, denying them the service’.




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