B2C e-commerce 2000-2010: what experts predict

Expert opinions on consumers’ future adoption and use of online technology in Europe and North America


This article reports on a series of annual surveys of how a panel of experts expect usage of online channels to develop between now and 2010 in Europe and North America.

The bursting of the internet bubble is not expected to reduce consumer usage of the Web for ecommerce. Indeed, in the latest survey, the experts again revise upwards their earlier predictions of European online adoption and usage in the home. The survey covers the following: online access at home; consumer choice of access channels; volume of e-commerce and each channel’s relative importance; the impact of mobile; barriers to B2C e-commerce; and regional differences.

This article focuses on expert opinions on consumers’ future adoption and use of online technology in Europe and North America. The findings are based on results from an international expert panel surveyed in October to December 2000 (see Appendix). Some of the findings compare responses of the same panel over a series of years.

The survey covered the following topics:

  1. Home penetration of online access technology: This is expected to have reached a saturation point of about 80% in North America and northern Europe by 2010, with the UK and Germany/Switzerland close behind. Southern and eastern Europe will still lag. Access via broadband digital subscriber lines (DSL) and mobile were expected to be more widespread in western Europe than in North America, where the dominant broadband channel will be cable modem. The panel’s predictions for home access to the Web in North America have been very consistent over the years of the survey. Predictions for north-western Europe have become more optimistic.
  2. Mobile: Email is seen to be the key benefit of mobile. High cost of online time and slow transmission speed are the main barriers to adoption and usage.
  3. e-commerce: The experts predict that by 2010 traditional narrrowband telephone lines will account for only about 30% of transactions, down from 80% now. DSL and cable modem are expected to rise to about 50% of transactions. In eastern Europe, mobile is expected to become the dominant channel. The main enduring barriers to adoption are seen as consumer worry about security of personal data and the slow speed of data transmission. The expert panel has changed its views on barriers considerably since 1997.

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