European online shopping is expected to grow from $5.4 billion in 1999 to more than $115 billion in 2003.The European boom predicted by analyst group Dataquest will be driven by such factors as cheaper Net access, reduced security fears and less reliance on US e-tailers.
Blaine Mathieu, senior industry analyst at Dataquest's ecommerce worldwide programme, said: "The advent of free Internet accounts is dramatically increasing the number of Internet users in Europe."
He added: "Relatively high penetration of smartcards, digital wallets, and other secure payment methods is reducing security concerns."
Mathieu said consumer ecommerce in Europe will also be propelled by the increased development of home grown systems utilising local currencies, languages, and distribution channels. "Customers in other regions of the world no longer have to order from e-tailers based in the United States."
Worldwide business to consumer ecommerce will become a $380 billion industry by 2003, according to Dataquest.
This year alone it will jump by nearly 300 per cent to reach $31.2 billion in 1999, up from $11.2 billion in 1998.
Mathieu said the reduced costs of Internet access and the growth of locally based online merchants will "drive the birth of large scale e-tailing throughout the world."
He believes that ecommerce companies have learned lessons from past years and are "determined not to repeat the mistakes of real-world retailers who were caught off guard by the ecommerce revolution."
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