Commentary

Worldwide OnLine Shoppers

Worldwide OnLine Shoppers

eMarketer estimates that U.S. B2C e-commerce revenues, which totaled $38.3 billion in 2000, will quadruple to $156 billion by 2005. The eCommerce: B2C report also predicts the online buying population will continue to grow to 79.3 million in 2001. Significantly, more and more of those consumers are opting to buy from trusted names from the offline world.

However, the second annual international study of online shopping by Consumers International, a global federation of more than 260 consumer organizations in 120 countries, found that Internet shoppers still cannot shop with confidence. Researchers from 15 consumer organizations in 14 countries found that:
- 6% of the goods ordered failed to arrive
- in six of those cases, shops charged for goods that were never delivered
- In 9% of the cases where goods were returned, the retailer never sent a refund
- In 17% of the cases where a refund was sent, it took more than 30 days to be credited

The research also identified clear failures to comply with current laws and best practice guidelines.
- 20% of the sites failed to give a clear total cost of the transaction
- Less than 50% of the sites based in the European Union provided information to customers about their right to withdraw from a contract
- 25% of the sites gave no information about their return policy
- more than 33% of sites failed to make clear the countries to which they would and would not ship goods.

Despite the problems cited by Consumers International, e-commerce continues to grow not only in the United States, the world's largest market for online shopping, but also in advanced European markets such as Germany and Britain.

A total of 6.9 million German consumers made an average of three online purchases in the six months. One in twelve German Internet users belongs to the group of "intensive buyers", who make at least one online purchase a month.

The typical online consumer in Germany is:
- 20 to 39 years old
- tends to come from households with more than one person
- has a high net income per household. Popular OnLine purchases:
- Books and CDs continue to be the favorite
- the strongest category in sales is travel
- then PCs and PC accessories.

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