Research from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), revealed that Europe remains by far the most prepared region for e-commerce. It has eight countries ranking in the top ten of a global index that was published last December. On top, we find the Netherlands, Switzerland and Singapore.
The Netherlands is on top of the list for its second consecutive year which scores 152 countries on their readiness for online shopping. Online shopping in all countries is valued at USD3.9 trillion (2017), which is up 22% from the year before. Countries are scored on the access to secure internet, 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.
The top 10 of developing countries that score the highest on this list all originate from Asia. They are classified as high-income and upper-middle-income economies. At the bottom of the list, we find least developed countries occupying eighteen of 20 bottom positions. According to the Director of UNCTAD, Shamika N. Sirimanne, this indicates that nations should worry about the digital gap that the B2C index shows. Developing countries struggle heavily.
An example she gives is that in a lot of European countries, more than 80% of internet users make online purchases. This percentage drops below 10% when looking at low and lower-middle-income countries.
UNCTAD: Need for Better statistics
Another problem that arises in developing countries, is that a lot of statistics are unavailable or unreliable. In 2018, for example, internet user data were available for less than half of the countries. Typically, countries that are least prepared for the digital economy have the least amount of available statistical information. As it is available to no-one, policymakers struggle to make a well-balanced decision, enlarging the gap between them and mature markets even more.
Changes in the 2019 rankings
Other noticeable changes:
- Iceland, New Zealand and Sweden dropped out of the top ten list due to a decrease in their scores for secure servers and postal reliability.
- Sweden also saw a drop in the portion of its population using the internet.
- New in the top ten are Finland (12th to 4th), Germany (16th to 9th) and Australia (11th to 10th).
- In the list of the top ten developing economies, Chile’s fall from the group is remarkable. The South American nation was replaced by Qatar, where practically the entire nation (99.7% of the population) is now online, according to data from the transport and communications ministry.
The complete research can be found here.