Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Frequently Asked Questions on E-commerce in the European Union – Eurobarometer results

European Commission - MEMO/08/426   20/06/2008

Other available languages: none

MEMO/08/426

Brussels, 20 June 2008

Frequently Asked Questions on E-commerce in the European Union – Eurobarometer results

How did these Eurobarometers address e-commerce?

The Special Eurobarometer 298 aims to measure consumer attitudes and experiences on cross-border transactions across Europe as well as consumer views on specific measures aimed at protecting their rights. The Flash Eurobarometer 224 aims to assess cross-border trade from a retail perspective by interviewing managers of retail enterprises on their experiences in cross-border transactions, as well as on their views on certain consumer policy measures.

This memo details the results of the sections of both surveys which deal, either directly or indirectly, with e-commerce. While parts of the surveys deal specifically with e-commerce, most cover cross-border transactions and distance selling/purchasing as a whole. Some of these have significant implications for e-commerce. As e-commerce is the most common distance selling channel, it is possible to make inferences about the state of and potential for e-commerce in Europe, on the basis of information about cross-border transactions and distance sales channels.

The 2008 surveys were done with the 27 current member states, whilst the 2006 surveys were done for the 25 Member states at the time. This has to be taken into account when assessing the result.

Sample sizes in both surveys do only allow approximate values to be given. This means that small changes of a few percent should be handled very cautiously.[1]

The respondents of the survey of retailer's attitudes (hereafter named the retailers) were defined as companies employing 10 or more people operating in one of the 27 member states, selling directly to consumers.

Certain business activities have not been included in this survey as they are not relevant to cross border issues and/or business to consumer trade. This means that the sample does not represent "all" retailers as it excludes markets not particularly relevant to cross border issues - for example "Central Banking" and "National Post Activities". 

How many European consumers buy online? And how many retailers sell online in the EU?

According to EB 298, 33% of consumers in the EU27 have purchased goods or services via the internet in the last 12 months, either in their home country or elsewhere (up from 27% in 2006, EU25). There is a significant variation in this figure at country level: 68% of individuals in the Netherlands have made an online purchase in the past 12 months, while this is true for just 4% of Bulgarians. 30% of EU consumers have made such a purchase from a retailer in their own country, while 7% have made an online purchase from a seller or provider in another EU country.

Percentage of individuals having purchased goods or services via the internet in the last 12 months, in their own country or elsewhere, and from a seller/provider located in another EU country.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Amongst persons with an internet connection at home, 56% have made an online purchase in the last 12 months. In the UK, 77% of people with an internet connection have done so, while in Bulgaria 14% have. 13% of EU27 consumers with an internet connection have made a cross-border purchase via the internet.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

E-commerce is the most popular distance selling channel in the EU. While 33% of European consumers have made an online purchase in the past 12 months, 16% have made a purchase over the phone (15% in 2006, EU25), 28% by post (27% in 2006, EU25) and 9% through a sales representative at home or at work (8% in 2006, EU25).

Similarly, amongst retailers, according to EB 224, the internet is the most popular distance selling channel. 51% of EU27 retailers sell via the internet (as compared to 57% in the EU25 in 2006), while just 30% sell by mail order, 21% through sales representatives and 17% via telesales. 79% of EU retailers sell their goods and services in shops. Selling via the internet is most common in the Czech Republic, where 69% of retailers use the internet for retail. It is least common in Italy, where the corresponding figure is 19%.

Percentage of retailers using e-commerce for retail, EU27

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Retailers estimate that 17% of their e-commerce revenue comes from cross-border online sales. The corresponding figure in 2006 for EU25 was 16%. EU consumers who have made a cross-border purchase in the past year have spent an average of €797.

On average, EU27 retailers currently make cross-border sales to final consumers in 1.3 countries, compared with 1.7 in the EU25 in 2006. This figure is highest in Malta, at 3.5, and lowest in Romania at 0.1. Thus many retailers are choosing not to sell their products in countries other than their own. This suggests that the same is true for cross-border e-commerce, as well as distance sales channels as a whole.

What are the main barriers to e-commerce in the EU?

Refusal to sell cross-border

8% of individuals who have made a cross-border purchase in the last 12 months have experienced being unable to buy an item because they lived in a different country.

Language

33% of EU consumers say they are willing to purchase goods and services in another language, while 59% of retailers are prepared to carry out transactions in more than one language.

Internet access

31% of EU consumers are not interested in cross-border shopping because they have no internet access. This suggests that as levels of internet access in the EU increase, so will the interest in cross-border shopping, in particular, e-commerce.

Do European consumers have confidence in cross-border e-commerce?

When asked about their levels of confidence in making cross-border purchases online, 37% of respondents said that they would be more confident making online purchases from sellers/providers located in their own country, which could prove to be a significant barrier to cross-border e-commerce. However, 34% said they are equally confident making purchases online from sellers in their own country than in another EU country. 6% said that they would be more confident buying online from sellers/providers in another EU country.

Consumers in Sweden, Finland and Denmark are most confident shopping online in their own country. The least confident are Romanian and Bulgarian consumers.
[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Contact: Helen Kearns +32 2 2987638

Emer Traynor +32 2 2921548

Annex

Table 1. Internet purchases

QC1.1. Please tell me if you have purchased any goods or services in the last 12 months, in (OUR COUNTRY) or elsewhere in any of the following ways (MULTIPLE ANSWERS POSSIBLE)? Via the internet (website, email, etc.)

 
TOTAL
Yes, from a seller\ provider located in (OUR COUNTRY)
Yes, from a seller\ provider located in another EU country
Yes, from a seller\ provider located outside the EU
No
DK
Yes
EU27
26746
30%
7%
4%
66%
1%
33%
BE
1012
23%
13%
4%
70%
0%
30%
BG
1000
4%
1%
0%
94%
2%
4%
CZ
1070
34%
3%
1%
64%
0%
36%
DK
1032
56%
23%
11%
37%
0%
63%
D-W
1036
40%
7%
3%
58%
0%
41%
DE
1562
39%
6%
3%
59%
0%
40%
D-E
526
35%
4%
2%
64%
1%
36%
EE
1000
22%
7%
3%
74%
-
26%
EL
1000
6%
5%
3%
89%
-
11%
ES
1004
14%
8%
3%
79%
1%
20%
FR
1054
42%
9%
6%
55%
0%
45%
IE
1000
20%
16%
9%
69%
1%
31%
IT
1036
12%
4%
2%
83%
1%
16%
CY
506
4%
13%
2%
82%
0%
17%
LV
1004
24%
5%
2%
73%
0%
27%
LT
1009
7%
3%
1%
90%
0%
9%
LU
513
11%
38%
5%
57%
-
43%
HU
1000
11%
1%
-
87%
1%
12%
MT
500
3%
23%
11%
72%
0%
27%
NL
1023
62%
16%
10%
32%
0%
68%
AT
1008
25%
19%
4%
67%
1%
32%
PL
1000
25%
2%
1%
73%
0%
26%
PT
1000
7%
2%
1%
91%
1%
9%
RO
1024
6%
1%
0%
91%
2%
7%
SI
1026
17%
6%
3%
79%
0%
21%
SK
1049
15%
2%
1%
82%
1%
16%
FI
1001
42%
14%
6%
51%
0%
49%
SE
1007
61%
17%
11%
34%
-
66%
UK
1306
52%
12%
11%
45%
1%
54%

Table 2a. Sales channels used by retailers

Q1_A-E. Do you use any of the following sales channels for retail? E-commerce/Internet

Country
TOTAL
e-commerce / Internet
EU27
7002
51,1%
BE
280
61,8%
BG
283
23,9%
CZ
281
69,3%
DK
151
55,4%
DE
400
63,6%
EE
150
40,8%
EL
150
48%
ES
401
47%
FR
400
46,1%
IE
281
67,7%
IT
402
19,1%
CY
75
38,2%
LV
140
20,5%
LT
140
33%
LU
75
48,2%
HU
286
35,8%
MT
75
59,3%
NL
283
64,2%
AT
280
60,2%
PL
402
50,9%
PT
281
34%
RO
400
25%
SI
140
61,4%
SK
286
35,3%
FI
280
38,6%
SE
280
59,1%
UK
400
64,8%

Table 2b. Sales channels used by retailers

Q1_A-E. Do you use any of the following sales channels for retail? % of “Yes” shown

E-commerce/Internet:

Table 2b.
 
 
 
Total N
e-commerce / Internet
EU27
7002
51,1
Companies that...
 
 
... are small businesses
5932
48,8
... are medium and large businesses
1034
63,8
... do cross-border sales
1459
77,1
... do domestic sales only
5235
42,9
... do distant cross-border sales
1217
92,4
... do distant domestic-only sales
2794
80,3

Table 3. Number of EU countries to which retailers make cross-border sales

Q5. To how many EU countries do you currently make cross-border sales to final consumers?

Table 3.
 




Companies that...
Total N
% 1 - 2
% 3 - 5
% 6 +
% DK/NA
... do cross-border sales
1459
39,4
28,8
31,8
0
... do distant cross-border sales
1217
35,5
30,3
34,2
0
... do e-commerce and cross-border sales
1125
34,4
30,1
35,4
0

Table 4. Lack of access to the Internet as a reason for consumers not shopping cross-border

QC15.5. Thinking generally about purchasing goods or services from sellers located elsewhere in the European Union, which we refer to as 'cross-border shopping', please tell me to what extent you agree or disagree with each of the following statements. You are not interested in cross-border shopping because you do not have access to the internet.

 
TOTAL
Totally agree
Tend to agree
Tend to disagree
Totally disagree
DK
Agree
Disagree
EU27
26746
21%
10%
18%
46%
5%
31%
64%
BE
1012
18%
10%
19%
53%
-
28%
72%
BG
1000
43%
10%
15%
20%
12%
53%
35%
CZ
1070
24%
11%
28%
34%
3%
35%
62%
DK
1032
11%
4%
7%
76%
2%
15%
83%
D-W
1036
24%
5%
14%
55%
2%
29%
69%
DE
1562
25%
6%
14%
54%
1%
31%
68%
D-E
526
28%
9%
13%
49%
1%
37%
62%
EE
1000
24%
8%
16%
46%
6%
32%
62%
EL
1000
24%
20%
26%
30%
-
44%
56%
ES
1004
21%
15%
23%
33%
8%
36%
56%
FR
1054
16%
9%
13%
58%
4%
25%
71%
IE
1000
22%
11%
18%
41%
8%
33%
59%
IT
1036
15%
13%
21%
43%
8%
28%
64%
CY
506
36%
8%
17%
36%
3%
44%
53%
LV
1004
26%
11%
18%
39%
6%
37%
57%
LT
1009
38%
10%
14%
30%
8%
48%
44%
LU
513
15%
4%
21%
53%
7%
19%
74%
HU
1000
55%
11%
12%
18%
4%
66%
30%
MT
500
20%
14%
15%
48%
3%
34%
63%
NL
1023
8%
1%
8%
81%
2%
9%
89%
AT
1008
23%
13%
20%
40%
4%
36%
60%
PL
1000
28%
13%
20%
32%
7%
41%
52%
PT
1000
15%
18%
32%
28%
7%
33%
60%
RO
1024
20%
11%
17%
30%
22%
31%
47%
SI
1026
20%
9%
17%
52%
2%
29%
69%
SK
1049
26%
19%
29%
22%
4%
45%
51%
FI
1001
20%
7%
18%
54%
1%
27%
72%
SE
1007
11%
4%
8%
75%
2%
15%
83%
UK
1306
17%
8%
19%
52%
4%
25%
71%

Table 5. Consumer confidence in shopping cross-border

QC16.1. For each of the following, would you be more confident making purchases from sellers/providers located in another European Union country, in (OUR COUNTRY) or equally confident in both? Purchasing goods from the internet.

 
TOTAL
More confident in another EU country than in (OUR COUNTRY)
More confident in (OUR COUNTRY) than in another EU country
Equally confident
DK
EU27
26746
6%
37%
34%
23%
BE
1012
4%
48%
37%
11%
BG
1000
7%
14%
19%
60%
CZ
1070
10%
36%
40%
14%
DK
1032
2%
59%
33%
6%
D-W
1036
4%
48%
29%
19%
DE
1562
4%
48%
28%
20%
D-E
526
5%
48%
23%
24%
EE
1000
5%
36%
29%
30%
EL
1000
14%
31%
54%
1%
ES
1004
5%
17%
42%
36%
FR
1054
9%
42%
31%
18%
IE
1000
4%
33%
31%
32%
IT
1036
5%
26%
46%
23%
CY
506
6%
38%
24%
32%
LV
1004
7%
32%
32%
29%
LT
1009
6%
21%
42%
31%
LU
513
4%
20%
46%
30%
HU
1000
3%
34%
34%
29%
MT
500
11%
33%
30%
26%
NL
1023
7%
48%
38%
7%
AT
1008
4%
43%
35%
18%
PL
1000
8%
27%
36%
29%
PT
1000
3%
21%
43%
33%
RO
1024
9%
13%
35%
43%
SI
1026
7%
32%
43%
18%
SK
1049
3%
47%
32%
18%
FI
1001
6%
66%
19%
9%
SE
1007
3%
67%
24%
6%
UK
1306
3%
53%
26%
18%


[1] Due to the low sample sizes on national level in the surveys of retailers, we warn the reader that member state level results are only approximate, with a maximum sampling error ranging from about ± 12% (in countries with a sample size of 75) to approximately 4,7% (where the national sample size is 400), with the sampling error being approximately ± 8,2%.The subsetting of the samples in various “filtered” questions further increase this range. Sampling errors for the EU-level data are, however, much smaller; for the total EU sample it is about ±1,5% (both or EU27 and EU25) and ±2% for the euro area. Whilst the same point is true for the survey of the consumers attitudes, the sample sizes are larger. However small differences of a few percent should be taken cautiously as the confidence levels ranges from 2 to 3 %.


Side Bar

My account

Manage your searches and email notifications


Help us improve our website