Nine in every 10 of those with access to the internet have shopped online and more than two-thirds of them do so at least once every month. This is similar to the situation in a number of other EU countries, namely the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Luxembourg. A survey conducted in April by MISCO investigates the behaviours and perceptions shaping online shopping trends in Malta.

The results show that nearly three-fourths of online shoppers in Malta purchase clothing and footwear, the biggest consumption category. Online fashion store ASOS, is in fact reached out to by 17 per cent of online shoppers, the third-largest after e-commerce giants Amazon (34 per cent) and eBay (37 per cent). In the EU, clothes are also the most popular online purchases.

The travel market has also seen a marked shift towards online purchasing, and more than 60 per cent of e-buyers purchase their flight tickets and hotel stays through internet merchants.

Around a quarter of online shoppers said they bought groceries online, equivalent to just under a fifth of the whole population. On the other hand, the consumer products least bought online are electronics and gadgets (eight per cent) and durable home appliances and furniture (five per cent).

In seeking to understand the concerns of those that do not shop online, the survey shows that two-thirds of those who have never shopped online feel more reassured in seeing the actual product they are buying. A third do not wish to take the risk of not getting what they paid for. This links with the experience of online shoppers, where more than 38 per cent of them have reported cases where the goods or services they bought were below their expectations. Nevertheless, only six per cent of these refuse to do so again as a direct consequence of the bad experience.

What exactly influences a purchase decision online? Putting aside product specific factors such as quality, multiple product options, special sizes, and so on, security and shipping charges hold the biggest weight for anyone deciding whether to make the purchase or not. Each of these factors have an influence on shoppers’ decision for nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of individuals.

Risks associated with broken or unfulfilled promises are the main concerns of online customers and 58 per cent of shoppers say they worry about not receiving what they pay for. In fact, two-thirds of them rely on other users’ recommendations while four in 10 say they never make the transaction before checking out product reviews.

Although payment security and safety regarding personal data is a top concern for online customers, 82 per cent say that they are fairly or strongly confident that the vendors they buy from are trustworthy.

When it comes to spend, a quarter of shoppers would not go beyond €100 in a single purchase while 16 per cent set their limit to €75. A tenth of respondents are happy to pay up to €150 and 12 per cent are prepared to go to €200 per transaction.

Although online shopping is starting to penetrate deeply in the Maltese market, the majority of people (58 per cent) indicate a preference for brick and mortar stores. Four in every 10 online shoppers said that they would rather view the products they are buying physically.

On the other hand, online shoppers believe that online shopping offers comfort when buying, saves time and offers a greater variety of products.

Rebecca Gera, MISCO international director, said it is interesting to note the incidence of online shopping in Malta is closer to that of Northern European countries rather than Mediterranean countries. She said that COVID-19 may have helped to increase online shopping, but one will need to evaluate whether this change in the behaviour of the Maltese consumer will become more entrenched.

The 2020 Online Shopping Trends Report by MISCO has been prepared in association with the Ornate Group. To view the full results, send an e-mail to research@miscomalta.com.

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