Online Purchases Increase Across Europe

As e-tailers prepare for another record Christmas period they should consider the changing trends in consumer confidence across Europe for new opportunities. Consumers are buying more frequently in every country in Europe, but as the pace of growth slows in the UK and competition stiffens, smart businesses will look to serve multilingual markets where consumerism grows faster and is less competitive.

Let’s face it. The first half of 2009 has not been a good year for traditional retailers. The demise of several high street brands has sent a sharp warning to those who fail to diversify. Across the high street it would seem that sales are down and customers driving an even harder bargain. Yet on a recent visit to Porchester’s Gunnery Wharf (A retail outlet village) I was pleased to see a healthy buzz. Some of the loss-lead promotions are getting shoppers in the store, or at least out shopping. Consumer confidence, albeit slow, seems to be returning.

It will be interesting to see the change in customer confidence for the last 6 months of 2009. My forecast is that the average number of purchases will increase greatest for those countries quickest out of recession. Namely France and Germany. I also suspect that we will see the UK drop off the number 1 spot for the most items bought online by the average consumer.

What does this mean for ecommerce? Essentially, 2 things: Those who have made the effort to translate and localise their websites are poised to see a greater increase in export sales and should look to build internationally. Those who remain monolingual are limited to English speaking markets, where competition is stiffer than Andy McNab’s clenched fist.

The demise of the traditional retailer was primarily fuelled by the failure to differentiate. Those who embraced the Web have been able to rely on multiple sources of revenue. As consumerism slows in the UK & USA and while online competition strengthens through not only newcomers but also price comparison websites & penny auctions, e-tailers need to wise up to growing multilingual markets. Otherwise they could find their fate following that of their offline brothers.

Source of chart statistics: European Interactive Advertising Association