Books, clothes and music are popular items to buy on the web, according to a new global online shopping study conducted by Survey Sampling International (SSI).
The majority of respondents in China (70 per cent) and Japan (60 per cent) purchase books on the internet, while almost half of participants in Brazil and the Netherlands do their book shopping online. In the US, books are also a common online purchase – second only to music – with 42 per cent of survey participants reporting they buy books on the web.
"The predominance of books as an online purchase worldwide is reflected in the sites respondents report using most in each country," says Rene Bos, managing director, Asia-Pacific for SSI.
" is among the top three shopping sites in three of the five countries studied – Japan, China and the US – where it easily takes the number one spot. In addition, – an online store for books, CDs and DVDs similar to Amazon – is the clear leader in the Netherlands."
While books are popular with internet shoppers, clothes are also a major online category. In fact, in China, clothes are the most common web purchase. Three-quarters of Chinese respondents say that they purchase their outfits online, more than in any other country studied. In the Netherlands, just under half of participants report buying outfits on the internet, tying with books as the most common item people buy online.
Clothing is also a dominant online category in Japan – second only to books – with 45 per cent of respondents shopping for apparel on the web. In addition, clothing is a top three online purchase in the US.
Music is also an important online category. It ranks number one in the US (44 per cent), number two in the Netherlands (36 per cent) and number four in Japan (38 per cent). It is less dominant in China and Brazil, though about a quarter of respondents in both countries buy music online.
Almost half of Chinese respondents and a third of Japanese respondents buy cosmetics online. In the US and Brazil, only about a quarter of online shoppers buy cosmetics on the web and in the Netherlands, just nine per cent purchase make-up online.
Digital equipment is another category where there are marked geographic differences. Close to half of online shoppers in China and Brazil purchase digital equipment on the internet. This is a far greater number than the US (38 per cent), the Netherlands (30 per cent) or Japan (26 per cent).
US internet shoppers are the happiest with their online experience. Almost half (47 per cent) say that they are strongly satisfied with their online shopping website and 50 per cent report being satisfied. Chinese online shoppers are at the opposite end of the spectrum, with just 15 per cent indicating that they are strongly satisfied. Japanese online shoppers also have lower satisfaction levels, with just 18 per cent reporting that they are strongly satisfied. Both Brazil and the Netherlands have about a third of online shoppers claiming to be strongly satisfied with their internet experience.
"When we delve into the reasons behind satisfaction levels, we uncover some interesting variations," says Bos. "For example, in China and the Netherlands, the availability of various choices is the key reason for satisfaction, while in Japan, the time factor is the number one satisfaction driver. In the US, having easy access to products from remote locations that are not available in local stores is the primary reason for high satisfaction.
"Cheaper prices are one satisfaction driver that most counties have in common. Cheaper pricing is the top satisfaction factor in Brazil. In addition, it is the second most important satisfaction driver in China, the US and Japan. In the Netherlands, pricing is less important, falling behind choice, time, availability of foreign products and home delivery options."
Although there are many different reasons for satisfaction among online shoppers around the world, consumers in almost all countries share the same reasons for dissatisfaction. Not liking to buy things without seeing them, having to wait too long for delivery and not enough selection are common reasons for dissatisfaction in most countries. In the US, a large portion of online shoppers also worry about the security of credit card payments.