By George Antoniades, PhD(s) Business Adm., Lecturer – CTL Eurocollege Limassol
Household internet access in Cyprus increased by 7% in 2018 from the year before. This increase means that Cyprus household internet access is 4% above the average EU percentage of 82.
Despite the wide use of internet though, on line shopping is low compared to other European countries. According to Eurostat, only 32% of those who used the internet in 2018 made on-line purchase(s) in our country. Close to the Cyprus score we find Croatia with 35% while Greece and Italy score 36%. Denmark has the most on-line shopping activity with 84% of its internet users having made on-line purchases. Other countries with high scores are the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany with around 80% of their internet users shopping on-line.
A Forbes article based on a UNCTAD report says that some European countries, such as Cyprus, prefer traditional shopping. Perhaps it is our preference to touch and look at the product, or our loyalty to some shops that keep us returning to bricks and mortar stores. Whatever the reason, Cyprus is among the top five countries where people prefer to shop in person.
The other reason, as the article suggests, is the lack of necessary skills internet users need, to shop on line. It seems that in Cyprus a large percentage of internet users do not have the skills to make on-line payments. According to Nina Angelovska, Cyprus is one of the top five countries that fall into this category. Younger people may have the necessary skills to make on-line payments, but they often do not have credit or debit cards. In fact Cyprus tops the list of European countries with internet users that do not have a credit card. The exact percentage is 21%.
A third factor that keeps Cypriots from shopping on-line is their mistrust of e-shops’ after sales service. Issues like delivery time, returns and handling of complaints, push Cypriots into brick and mortar shops, where they know they can go in person and sort out any misunderstandings. In addition, shoppers know they will receive their items right away and will not have to wait weeks or even months to enjoy their products.
To sum up, although internet access in Cyprus is now well above the European average, it seems that conventional stores on the island do not have to worry much, at least for the time being.