NEWS

Shopping via the Web

Internet shopping is slowly gaining ground in Greece. Business trends also indicate optimism for prospective profits from Internet commerce. In 1996, 5 million people around the world bought products and services online; in 1998 that figure had risen to 17 million. By 2007, the amount spent on purchases via the Internet is expected to rise from $4.5 billion (in 1998) to $60.3 billion. Though Greeks have been relatively hesitant to shop electronically, the number of them who use the Internet to buy goods and services has almost doubled since 2003. A survey by GfK Market Analysis in November 2003 found that 10 percent of Greek Internet users went online to seek products. The keenest shoppers were in the 45-54 age group. As for younger people, a survey by the Greek consumer organization EKPOIZO showed that around 20 percent of pupils aged 10-14 have bought things via the Internet either by cash on delivery (56 percent) or by credit card. Now 18.7 percent of Greek Internet users shop online, mostly from foreign websites. The most popular purchases are books (42 percent) and plane tickets and travel bookings (32 percent). After that come CDs, DVDs, games, clothing, footwear and accessories. Every day, more than 8,000 Greek consumers use the webpage of e-shop (a large electronic department store) which was founded in 1998 and has tripled its sales every year since then. Those who shop online choose to do so because it is convenient, because they cannot find the products locally, or because it is cheaper. But 34.5 percent of those who have never shopped online say they avoid doing so because they do not trust the method of payment. «Consumers should not worry about their credit cards,» said Nikos Vassilakos, president of the Union of Greek Internet Users. «They just need to check the amount debited and their bank statement. Besides, consumers can cancel a purchase, even if they have already taken delivery of the product.» Since the 1990s, various ways of encrypting the content of messages and the identity of the sender have been established. Legislation on imports, exports and communications has been amended to make international electronic exchanges more secure. European Union regulations and Greek laws (such as Law 2251/94 on consumer protection) regulate the distance contracts used in electronic purchases. As for personal data, the law stipulates that the consumer’s consent is required if a business wishes to transmit information to third parties. There are also security codes inside webpages protecting customers while they are online. Ditching the supermarket trolleys for home delivery Electronic supermarket shopping has taken off in Attica over the past five years. So far two chains – Veropoulos and AB Vassilopoulos – have online shopping. More and more people are ordering products by e-mail, telephone, or fax, the last of which is the most popular with large companies ordering in bulk. «The system has been in operation since 2000,» Babis Anastopoulos, head of electronic trade at Veropoulos, told Kathimerini. «We have catalogs with our prices. We get around 200 phone orders a day, and we have regular online customers, both individuals and companies. Customers must order at least 31 products or goods to the value of 75 euros, and we don’t charge for delivery. It takes at least four hours from the time of the order until delivery.» The identity of customers who order by e-mail is protected by security protocols, and credit card numbers are encrypted.