Forrester just published its annual guide to online shopping, multichannel retail, and the profile of online shoppers in Europe: The 2004 European Online Retail Consumer. This study is based on Forrester¿s Consumer Technographics Q2 2004 European Survey of 22,907 consumers.*

The Forrester Research Data Overview provides clear insight into the key changes in consumers¿ online buying behavior. Online shopping is gaining momentum in Europe, with women driving the growth. In addition, consumers clearly rate search engines highly when they shop online. However, they see less value in loyalty schemes.

According to Reineke Reitsma, Manager of Quantitative Research Operations at Forrester Research: ¿The Internet is becoming an established additional ¿ and for certain types of products even an alternative ¿ retail channel as multichannel buying continues to grow. Although high street shops are still the most important retail channel, they will certainly start feeling the impact of the Internet.¿ Reitsma continues: ¿How much the Internet impacts other channels depends on the product and the profile of the consumer purchasing it: While 55% of online clothing shoppers also bought clothes from a shop, just 16% of online event ticket buyers also bought tickets from a physical location.¿

Other key findings include:

  • More than 60 million Europeans shop online, an increase of 50% since early 2003. Women are driving this growth: In 2002, around 17 million women bought products online; 27.4 million do so now.
  • Some 53% of Europeans have access to the Internet, and almost half of these shop online. The shopping landscape is dominated by consumers aged 25 to 44; these 32 million consumers account for half of all European online shoppers.
  • The UK and Germany account for a combined 40 million online shoppers ¿ two-thirds of the European total. France and Italy lag behind in terms of numbers, but have shown a large increase in eCommerce revenues in the past year.
  • In these lagging countries, the average online shopper is still a Net-savvy, young consumer with a higher income. In Northern Europe, however, online shoppers are more representative of the mainstream; for example, the earlier male dominance has disappeared.
  • High street shops are still the most important retail channel, but the Net is already having an impact on certain product categories, such as event tickets and audio devices.
  • The ¿mainstreaming¿ of the online shopper is changing the shopping landscape. Online shoppers today spend more money online than they did in 2003 and feel comfortable online. Thirty percent of them have bought from a site outside their own country. Almost half of them use comparison shopping sites ¿ and buy afterwards.
  • Outside the UK, France, and Spain, online shopping doesn¿t automatically mean online paying. In Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands, the majority of shoppers pay offline in a variety of ways ¿ such as cash on delivery, check, or via a bank account.

* In Q2 2004, Forrester surveyed 22,907 consumers in seven major Western European markets: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.