The study aims to gauge the growth of eCommerce use by consumers across the Maltese islands whilst allowing comparisons with the results of previous editions. The study established that 54% of all respondents (including those who don’t use Internet) engage in eCommerce, up from 51% in 2010 and 30% in 2008. Indeed, the majority (55%) of those who use Internet have bought something online within the previous three months. Only 25% have never bought anything or commissioned others to buy for them, despite the fact they go online. The frequency of purchases is also significant, with 28% buying online at least once a month and 34% buying at least once every three months. Compared to previous years, the frequency has gone up especially for monthly buying. The main reason given for not buying online is that the user is not interested or doesn’t feel the need to do so (32%), followed by lack of knowledge on how to do it (26%) and a preference to see/try an item before buying (22%). Security doesn’t seem to be an issue.
In the 2010 edition of this survey, preference to try out the products and security were the two most important issues. The biggest spenders are in the 18-29 year age bracket with 97%. These are followed by other age groups which progressively report a decrease as the age goes up (only 40% of those aged 66+ years buy online). In terms of the amount spent, the majority (55%) spend up to €500 a year, while 25% spend up to a €1,000 a year, 12% up to €2,000 a year and 6% spend more than €2,000 a year.
The survey confirmed the trends and the need for action highlighted in the National eCommerce Strategy, for the Maltese would rather buy from foreign than from Maltese merchants. The most popular country of origin for their goods is the UK with 91%, followed by China (China and Hong Kong combined) with 44%, Malta with just 34%, and the USA with 24%. Other EU countries follow with lower percentages. The most popular foreign merchants are eBay, Amazon, Sports Direct, Asos, Play.com and Book Depository.
The most popular items bought from foreign websites are clothes and shoes (63%), IT and electronic goods (45%), books (35%), and flight tickets (28%). The nature of the items changes for goods and services purchased from Maltese websites. In this case the most popular are flight tickets (35%), books/CD/DVD (23%), booked service/appointment (11%) and IT electronic goods (10%). The most popular online merchants are, in order of ranking, Air Malta, Maltapark, Agenda, OOII, Maltasupermarket, Ticketline, BLD and Scan.
The reasons given for not buying from local websites are: no need to (36%), prices are not as competitive as those on foreign sites (32%), and the limited choice (30%). Price and shipping fees remain the most important factors in the choice of buying from one rather than from another website. Positive reviews about the retailer and products, a good product description and security features of the website come next. Potential shoppers like websites that have good search facilities to find what they want, are user-friendly and have good site navigation. PayPal has supplanted the credit card as the preferred method of payment (80% vs. 44%).