British consumers most avid internet shoppers in Europe, according to latest Mastercard figures

The British are the most avid online shoppers in Europe according to Masterindex 2017, a new Mastercard report on e-commerce and payment trends across the continent. The report included a survey 43,000 consumers in 23 European markets and it suggests that one in four Europeans with access to the internet purchased products or services online at least once a week in 2016.

While uptake of e-commerce is high across Europe, the research reveals interesting differences from country to country in terms of how often people shop online, what types of things they purchase, and their preferred payment methods. At a time when European policy makers are looking to break down barriers to cross-border e-commerce, the Masterindex highlights different national attitudes to buying from sites in other countries.

How often are people shopping online? UK internet users come out as the most regular users of e-commerce in Europe overall. 8% of the UK population shops online every day, and 41% shop online every week. This is the highest in Europe, followed by 32% in Ireland. In contrast, Finns (17%), Estonians (16%) and Danes (16%) are far less likely to buy something on the internet at least once a week.

‘Our deep understanding of how people across Europe are embracing digital behaviours enables all of us at Mastercard to work with our partners across the region and build the products, solutions and technology that makes life that little bit more simple. In an increasingly complex and digital environment Mastercard is building the solutions that get us from to-do, to done in a way that doesn’t compromise on efficiency and security’, says Javier Perez, President, Mastercard Europe.

Across Europe there is a significant increase in activity when comparing daily to weekly frequency. This is because the types of things people buy online are less likely to be everyday items. Clothing and footwear is by far the most popular category overall (48% European average) followed by tickets (34%), electronics (33%) and books (31%).

Brits who shop online (33%) are twice as likely to buy their groceries on the internet as their nearest continental neighbours in the Netherlands (16%), France (15%) and Belgium (13%). Attitudes also vary on preferred methods of buying online. In the Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands and Poland online banking is twice as popular as cards. But in countries UK and Ireland, cards remain the most popular payment methods by some distance.

The survey also looked at new payment methods such as e-wallets, banking apps and QR code scanning – indicating strong potential for growth in these areas. While there is a clear openness across Europe to try out new technologies, this interest does not always correlate with actual use. For example while Spanish internet shoppers are the most enthusiastic about e-wallets in theory, they lag behind Norwegians (20%), Greeks (20%), and Finns (19%) when it comes to current mobile use of this technology.

Despite different trends from country to country, people across Europe tend to share similar concerns about online shopping. Fear of fraud is the number one reason for not buying online in all countries surveyed.

Among the key factors to delivering on growth, both cross-border and domestically, appear to be continued efforts to build trust and confidence in e-commerce, and, critically, ever improving online offers and conditions.

About the Research

The majority of the data for the Masterindex is compiled from Mastercard’s existing internal Global Consumer Tracker (GCT) which surveys payments trends in 23 EEA countries[1] on regular basis. The GCT survey is carried out though an online questionnaire via online research panels amongst respondents aged 18 to 64 years who either own a payment card or have a bank account. Sample sizes varied between countries between 855 and 3,439 with a total of 42,881 consumers surveyed across the 23 countries. Questions on frequency of online buying are asked to internet users in general. Answers to all other questions refer to people who have indicated that they shop online.

This is the first time that this data has been summarised for external purposes with a view to contributing insights to business and policy discussions on e-commerce.

To complement this data on domestic e-commerce trends the 2017 Masterindex also draws partly on open source data for 2015-2016 from the Google Consumer Barometer Survey, and looks at cross border e-commerce trends in 26 EEA countries[2].

The Consumer Barometer survey is conducted through online research panels, amongst online population who use at least one connected device (computer, tablet or smartphone) and purchased at least one product online in last 3 to 12 months. The survey focuses on the adult population aged 16+ in each country. Frequency questions is asked to internet users in general, whereas other questions are asked to people who indicate whether or not they shop online cross-border.

It is important to note that this is a separate dataset to the GCT, which allow us to gain some insights into cross border trends. As of 2018, the intention is to extend the Global Consumer Tracker data set to cross-border e-commerce to ensure a single comparable dataset on trends in e-commerce in general and cross border e-commerce specifically.

Mastercard (NYSE: MA) is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, travelling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.

[1] Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, UK

[2] Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK