October 26 (SeeNews) - Latvia, Belgium, Romania and Bulgaria are the European Union countries where online shoppers are least able to buy cross-border, a recent survey of e-commerce in the bloc found.
In the survey, commissioned by the European Commission and carried out by German market research institute YouGovPsychonomics, mystery shoppers tested the online ordering process for 10,964 cross-border offers and for 2,609 domestic offers to determine the scope of opportunities available to consumers, potential savings for consumers shopping cross-border, and the extent to which consumers can take advantage of the opportunities offered by cross-border e-commerce in the EU.
The foregone benefits to citizens are very clear. In more than half of EU member states, including Slovenia and Romania, 50% or more or the products could be found 10% cheaper (transport costs included) from a website in another country, the survey found.
Consumers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Romania were less often successful in registering in shops outside their home country. In these countries, the registration process in cross-border e-commerce was only successful in approximately 45% of all the cross-border offers as opposed to 62%, the EU average.
For consumers from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, and Romania, cross-border shipment was most often impossible, the survey found.
British, Finnish, French, Italian, and Slovenian consumers were offered the option of paying with credit or debit card in three-quarters of all the offers. Bulgarian, Czech, and Slovakian consumers had this opportunity in fewer than half of the offers. The EU average across all offers is 63%.
Romania and Bulgaria top the list in terms of percentage of technically accessible offers for which the ordering process failed with 76% and 75% each.
The European e-commerce market was estimated to be worth 106 billion euro ($159.4 billion) in 2006, according to EU data.
In 2008, when 51% of EU retailers sold online, 32% of individuals in the EU27 had ordered online in the last year. That rate was significantly lower in Bulgaria and Romania, however, at 3.0% and 4.0%, respectively, EU data showed.