Europe benefits from a single currency and a single market, yet few Europeans use the Internet to shop for deals outside of their home countries. The problem isn’t an aversion to e-commerce. More and more Europeans are buying online; 33% of Europeans shopped online last year, up from 27% in the previous year. Meanwhile, the figure for purchases abroad remained almost stable at a mere 7%, according to a report released today by the European Commission.
The Commission’s Directorate General for ‘Health and Consumer’s’ provocative study dissects the barriers to cross-border e-commerce. The Commission found that only about a third of European consumers said they were willing to purchase goods and services in another language — and only about two-thirds of European online merchants are prepared to sell in more than one language.
Google is working hard to help consumers and merchants overcome these language barriers. Free tools like Google Translate and Google Dictionary allow shoppers to navigate the continent’s fragmented, multilingual retail universe. Google Toolbar also contains a translation feature. With a single click, these tools make foreign language websites understandable.
Merchants can use these free tools to add machine translation to their websites. This are particularly useful for small businesses, which often lack the resources to build multilingual sites and which the Commission says ‘appear to have been particularly reluctant to embrace the opportunities of e-commerce to sell cross-border.’
Technology, of course, cannot by itself create a seamless single European online market, and language isn’t the only barrier to cross-border e-commerce. As the Commission rightly notes, regulators themselves must work to end the continent’s differences in consumer, copyright, and tax systems. But better information can provide a big boost. At Google, we’ll continue to advance tools that connect consumers and businesses across the European Union’s many languages.
(Via Google Public Policy Blog.)
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(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
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at a new nationwide crackdown against online content deemed vulgar.”
EU – Barriers to E-commerce: “(RAPID)
A new report on Barriers to E-commerce, presented by EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, shows that online shopping is increasingly popular in the EU, but warns that barriers to cross border trade are holding back its development. The report presents a detailed analysis of current trends in e-commerce across the EU ? including per country, most purchased items and obstacles for consumers and business online. Between 2006 and 2008 the proportion of EU consumers buying at least one item over the internet increased from 27% to 33%. These average figures mask the huge popularity of online shopping in countries like UK, France and Germany where more than 50% of internet users have made online purchases in the last year. In the Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland) the proportion of internet users who bought products and services online was 91% in 2008. Countries like Italy and Spain are also fast growing markets. Against this pattern of fast growing national markets, the extent of online purchasing cross border remains small, at only 7% in 2008 (compared to 6% in 2006). The report warns that numerous obstacles – linguistic, practical and regulatory as well as important trust issues ? are holding back the development of online shopping in the EU.”
(Via QuickLinks Update.)