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Monday, 17 January, 2000, 16:15 GMT
Online shopping set to boom

Amazon: most popular internet shopping site


UK spending on the internet is set to boom over the next two years, according to a survey by professional services firm Ernst & Young.

It says online shopping will treble by 2002, with retailers facing intense competition from US companies which already have an established online presence.

Spending on the internet in the UK trebled last year alone, with 10% of households shopping online.

A similar pattern of growth was observed in France and Italy, although at much lower levels, and the UK asserted its position as second only to the US in online shopping.

Branding

Ernst & Young's research found that most customers usually accessed e-commerce websites by keying in a known site address, indicating the importance of establishing a recognised brand name.

In the UK, France and Italy, the most popular items bought online were books, CDs, computers and IT products.

Consumers said they were keen to be able to buy their groceries online because visits to supermarkets took up so much of their leisure time.

Until now, grocery services from companies such as Tesco's and Sainsbury's have been mainly regional trials but these look set to expand rapidly.

Customers also said their primary reason for shopping online was competitive prices. This was followed by range of products, convenience and good delivery speed.

Their concerns were credit card security, more choice and guaranteed privacy of personal information submitted during the transaction.

The top reasons for not buying from a website were given as high delivery costs and, with clothing, concerns over correct sizes.

Cyber-shopper profile

The survey found that the typical online shopper was male, under 40 and earned more than 30,000.

But Ernst & Young predicts more women using the net, and food and clothing moving up the lists of frequently purchased items.

Travel was also expected to become a regular in the online shopping charts.

Stephanie Shern, director of retail and consumer products with Ernst & Young, says: "In the US, the next wave of e-shoppers will be of average and below-average income, older and more ethnically diverse."

Overall, Ernst & Young surveyed more than 3,900 online consumers, as well as thirty-eight retail companies, in six countries during October and November of last year.

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See also:
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Online shopping boom
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EU e-commerce agreement
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