Robert Kneschke - Fotolia
The UK had the highest percentage of individuals in the European Union (EU) purchasing online in 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
A comparison of information from Eurostat, which collects data from across the EU, revealed that 79% of the UK population ordered goods online in 2014, with Denmark coming a close second at 78% and Norway following at 77%.
Falling behind the rest of the EU was Romania, where just 10% of people ordered online, and Italy, where the figure is 22%.
The number of UK citizens using electronic means to order goods has increased significantly over the past 10 years, rising from 44% in 2005.
But consumers are not the only ones benefitting from online ordering, as e-commerce accounted for 20% of UK turnover in 2013. “E-commerce has become an important source of revenue for businesses in the UK,” stated the ONS report.
“This could be due in part to a number of factors, such as UK government initiatives to promote e-commerce and the 'digital agenda', alongside potential growth in other areas of the economy in the countries overtaken by Britain, resulting in the percentage of turnover accounted for specifically by e-commerce falling.”
Much can stand in the way of businesses attempting to sell goods online. Some 23% of UK businsesses in 2012 stated that their website sales were affected because goods and services were not suitable for consumers.
“There are a number of obstacles that can limit a business from selling via a website – the most notable across all EU member states is that the goods and services are not suitable,” said the ONS report.
Payment is also considered a problem, with 14% of UK businsesses citing it as an obstacle for e-commerce transactions.
One in 10 UK businesses pointed the finger at IT security and data protection as a barrier to e-commerce, while 9% of UK firms blamed legal frameworks.
The ONS stats also highlighted the need to hire IT employees to cope with the growing technology demand as a result of increasingly digital online businesses.
Almost a quarter of UK businesses were employing IT specialists in 2013, which was above the EU average of 20%. But Ireland stormed ahead with 28% of businesses employing specialists in the IT area.