European nations hold eight of the top 10 spots on UNCTAD's latest Business-to-Consumer (B2C) E-commerce Index, which ranks 152 countries on their readiness to engage in online commerce. The Czech Republic finished a respectable 25th overall, rising six notches since the previous study.
Countries are scored on the access to secure internet servers, the reliability of postal services and infrastructure, and the portion of their population that uses the internet and has an account with a financial institution or mobile-money-service provider.
According to UNCTAD (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), online shopping, was worth an estimated 3.9 trillion US dollars globally in 2017, up 22 percent from the previous year.
Countries are scored on access to secure internet servers, the reliability of postal services and infrastructure, and the portion of their population who uses the Internet and has an account with a financial institution or mobile-money-service provider.
The eight European countries making the Top 10 were the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Germany. Their line of progressing from the first place is disrupted in the 3rd place by Singapore, with Australia taking the 10th spot.
The United States finished in 13th place ,mainly due to the relatively low proportion of Internet users compared to other developed countries (which, as it happens, is as high as in the Czech Republic – 87 percent).
E-commerce has come a long way in the Czech Republic over the past decade, with more than 36,000 online stores operating here, according to the Association of E- Commerce (APEK).
Today 7.1 million Czechs – i.e. 81 percent off Czech households – are connected to the Internet and the number of Czechs using Internet banking has reached 63 percent, a figure that is above the EU average of 54 percent and higher than in many other European countries, according to Czech Statistics Office data.
While older Czechs may have needed some time to overcome a certain reticence and security concerns, 88 percent of Czechs aged 25 to 34 – who have grown up in the digital age – manage their money online and consider internet banking an essential service.
The 10 developing countries with the highest scores are all from Asia and classified as high-income or upper middle-income economies. At the other end of the spectrum, least developed countries occupy 18 of the 20 bottom positions.
“Our B2C index shows how real and worrying the digital gap is between developed and developing countries,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s unit that prepares the annual index.
For example, in half a dozen European nations, more than 80 percent of internet users make purchases online. But that proportion is below 10 percent in most low and lower middle-income countries.
“There is an urgent need to help less prepared countries improve their infrastructure and build trust among their population,” Sirimanne said. “Otherwise, their businesses and people will miss out on the opportunities offered by the digital economy, and they will be less prepared to deal with various challenges.”