Internet Special Report Europe's Enticing E-markets (1,780 wo
Whatever the differences, your best plan of action, at least initially, is to target one European country at a time and build from there.
Europe's largest economy has a proven direct marketing history. Germany currently has more than 5 million online buyers spending about $2.2 billion. The country is expected to have 21 million adult online users by 2005, spending $18 billion online.
Germany is pursuing a national technology plan to have at least 40 percent of the population online by 2003. It has a relatively high number of online purchasers —currently every ninth German buys online. Many Germans shop online to avoid inconvenient retail hours that are far more inflexible than those in the United States.
Most online buyers are between 20 and 39 years old and spend an average of about $800 annually. A slight majority shop at least once a month; 45 percent shop online at least once every three months.
As mentioned, Germans, like many Europeans, tend to avoid Web surfing due to high local phone charges. They often conduct offline research before logging on, which spells opportunities for reaching these consumers through traditional direct marketing techniques to get them to visit your site. When they do buy, popular items include travel and tourism, computer hardware, and books.
Caveats: Germans tend to place a high premium on the quality of goods, and they don't expect high or additional costs such as shipping, handling and taxes. They also prefer consolidated shipments (don't send items separately), multiple delivery options, the ability to track orders online and paying by C.O.D. rather than with credit cards.
The bottom line: Germany is a lucrative market for U.S. e-tailers. But the key to success is demonstrating quality while providing excellent service.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is an excellent entry point for U.S. e-tailers—not just because of the common language. It has a strong technological infrastructure, as well as a liberalized and open competitive e-market.