Contributor Since 2011
Western Europe leads the world in retail e-commerce sales. Its dominance will continue through 2012, when online retail sales will cross the $200 billion threshold.
The UK is the most mature market, but other countries increasingly contribute to the region's online buying clout. For example, France and Germany together boast 89 million Internet users in 2010, eMarketer estimates, and the majority are online purchasers.
The population of online shoppers and buyers in the region is rising steadily. Forrester Research projected that the number of Western Europeans buying on the Web will grow from 141 million in 2009 to 190 million in 2014.
Event tickets, consumer electronics, books, music and DVDs, as well as travel and accommodation, rank among the most frequent online purchases in all major Western European countries. Clothing is becoming a popular buy, too.
But there are key differences in these markets. France and Germany have shown much higher online sales and greater e-commerce activity among Web users than Italy and Spain, where the Internet still represents a fraction of total retail volume.
This year, 162 million people in the US will research products online, and much of this research will lead to in-store purchases. Over 82% of online researchers, or 133 million people, will be online buyers. The percent of online buyers will rise as young Internet users, predisposed to e-commerce, replace older users.