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E-commerce and Internet Use, 2013

E-commerce sales comprise of sales received over a website and sales received over Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). EDI is the computer-to-computer exchange of data and documents in a standard electronic format

E-commerce sales and Internet use in UK businesses have been increasing since records began in 2009 (1) (2). ONS produce annual e-commerce estimates and following the release of the European Union (EU28) wide e-commerce and Internet use statistics by Eurostat (3) earlier this month (which includes UK data). ONS now compares the performance of the UK to other EU countries.

On 22 December 2014, ONS also published a response to the ‘Measuring the Digital Economy’ consultation.

E-commerce in the European Union

In 2013, a fifth (20%) of UK business turnover was generated by e-commerce sales, the third highest of any nation in the EU (of those countries with data available from the Eurostat website for 2013). This compares with the level for the EU of 15%. However, it was well below Ireland where over half (52%) of their business turnover was from e-commerce sales and the Czech Republic (29%). The countries within the EU with the lowest recorded turnover from e-commerce sales were Bulgaria (3%) and Greece (2%).

Figure 1: Percentage of turnover from e-commerce sales and percentage of businesses making e-commerce sales, 2013

Figure 1: Percentage of turnover from e-commerce sales and percentage of businesses making e-commerce sales, 2013
Source: Eurostat

Notes:

  1. 2013 estimates for Belgium, Luxembourg and Slovenia were not available from the Eurostat website when this analysis was undertaken. Luxembourg is excluded from the EU estimate

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In 2013, 22% of UK businesses made e-commerce sales, the eighth highest within the EU of those shown in figure 1. This is above the level for the EU of 18%, but below Denmark (28%) and the Czech Republic (28%) which had the highest percentages. Romania (8%) and Italy (8%) have the lowest percentages. Only five countries in the EU experienced a higher percentage of turnover from e-commerce sales than the percentage of businesses that made e-commerce sales, with Ireland showing the largest difference between the two measures; more than half of business turnover was generated from e-commerce sales in Ireland whereas less than a quarter of businesses (24%) made e-commerce sales.

E-commerce Sales by Size of Business

The size of a business, by level of employment, is also related to whether a business makes e-commerce sales. As shown in figure 2, larger businesses in the EU are more likely to make e-commerce sales. This pattern can be seen with e-commerce sales and internet use, with larger businesses seeming to lead the way in the digital world. However, figure 2 highlights that the proportion of businesses making e-commerce sales has increased across all size bands since 2009.

Figure 2: Percentage of businesses within the EU who make e-commerce sales by business size, 2009 - 2013

Figure 2: Percentage of businesses within the EU who make e-commerce sales by business size, 2009 - 2013
Source: Eurostat

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Destination of E-commerce Sales

In 2012, of the UK businesses which made e-commerce sales, 99% sold to customers within the UK, 40% to customers within other EU countries and 34% to customers throughout the rest of the world (4). A high proportion of UK businesses who sell via e-commerce make sales to the rest of the world when compared with other countries in northern Europe (such as Denmark, 20% and France, 24%).

The proportion of UK businesses who made sales ‘within the country’ was higher than for the EU as a whole (94%), in line with the ‘to other EU’ (40%), and above the ‘rest of the world’ (25%). As shown in figure 3, within the ‘to other EU’ and ‘rest of the world’ there are some countries with very high proportions, notably Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta. For Malta and Cyprus this could  be related to their geographical location (close to Africa and Asia).

Figure 3: Percentage of businesses making e-commerce sales who sold to other European Union countries and/or the rest of the world, 2012

Figure 3: Percentage of businesses making e-commerce sales who sold to other European Union countries and/or the rest of the world, 2012
Source: Eurostat

Notes:

  1. 2012 estimate for Germany were not available from the Eurostat website when this analysis was undertaken but is included in the EU estimate

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Businesses Internet Download Speed

Another factor affecting businesses is maximum internet download speed; however, there does not appear to be a strong relationship between this and other factors such as making e-commerce sales or social media usage. However, it is interesting to see that unlike the other indicators, in 2013 the UK was below the level for the EU for super fast internet broadband, with only 7.5% of UK businesses having an internet speed of  greater than 100 Mb/s compared with 9.5% of EU businesses as shown in figure 4.

Figure 4: Percentage of businesses by maximum contracted internet download speed, 2013

Figure 4: Percentage of businesses by maximum contracted internet download speed, 2013
Source: Eurostat

Notes:

  1. Those that don’t respond to the internet download speed question are included in the ‘No internet connection’ category.

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Use of social media by businesses

In 2013, 44% of UK businesses used social media, compared with 36% of businesses across the EU. Elsewhere in the EU, the largest percentage of businesses using social media was seen in Malta (66%) with the lowest percentage of business use being in Latvia (19%).

Figure 5: Percentage of EU businesses using social media, 2013

Figure 5: Percentage of EU businesses using social media, 2013
Source: Eurostat

Notes:

  1. 2013 estimates for Belgium, France and the Czech Republic were not available from the Eurostat website when this analysis was undertaken. They are excluded from the EU estimate

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In 2013 within the EU, social media was used by 33% of small businesses (10-49 employees), 45% of medium sized businesses (50-249 employees) and 59% of large businesses (250+). This pattern, where larger businesses are more likely to be using internet services is consistent across all countries.

Use of cloud computing services by businesses

Services based on cloud computing technology allow users to store and manage large files or use software on a server run over the internet. Cloud services are a relatively new phenomenon compared with web applications for social networking, listening to music or watching films(5). As shown in figure 6, in 2013 the UK had the 7th highest proportion of businesses buying cloud computing services used over the internet (24%), above the level for the EU (19%). The highest use of cloud computing was in Finland, with over half (51%) of businesses buying these services, with a third (33%) of Finnish businesses buying e-mail as a cloud computing service.

Figure 6: Percentage of EU businesses who bought cloud computing services used over the Internet, 2013

Figure 6: Percentage of EU businesses who bought cloud computing services used over the Internet, 2013
Source: Eurostat

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Where can I find out more about these statistics?

This story was created by Chris Kevany at ONS. The analysis is based on data from Eurostat Information Society statistics and ONS E-commerce and ICT Activity of UK Businesses. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email us at: ecommerce@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Notes:

1. Estimates in this analysis are based on businesses with 10 or more employees in the manufacturing, production, construction, distribution and parts of the service sector. Information on businesses with less than 10 employees is not required under EU legislation therefore is not covered.

2. Any reference to the EU in this analysis is to the EU28. Data have been collected for EU28 since 2009. EU rankings exclude countries where data is not available from the Eurostat website. EU aggregates are compiled when the available countries represent 60% of the population and 55% of the number of countries defining the aggregate. It should be noted that even though some countries may be missing from the dataset they may be included in the aggregate. Results that are flagged unreliable are included for the calculation of the EU estimate, confidential data are not.

3. All data can be been found at: Eurostat’s Information Society page. Eurostat present data by the year of publication while this analysis presents data according to the reference year.  Estimates for the UK are derived from the E-commerce Survey of UK Businesses. E-commerce and internet surveys collect different data year-on-year depending on Eurostat regulations, therefore certain information isn’t available for some years. For example, the most recent data on the destination of e-commerce sales is 2012.

4. Percentage totals may exceed 100 as businesses may sell to multiple areas.

5. Source of definition: Eurostat.
 





 

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