When I first came to the Czech Republic earlier this semester, I realized that I had forgotten my Kindle case at home. So as if by reflex, I booted up my laptop and typed in amazon.cz to buy a new one … only to find that it didn’t exist. In fact, I found out that Amazon does not exist in Europe anywhere east of Germany. So then, I went to my backup, Ebay. Ebay.cz did exist but once there I saw that all of their products came from … the UK, US, Germany, China, and Hong Kong. There was no option to search for items within the Czech Republic. I was astounded. I could not find a place online where I could buy a Kindle case from within the Czech Republic outside of a store. After asking my RAs about it, I found out that most Czech online shopping, if any, is done through the store you are buying from. This led me to wonder, how prominent is online shopping in the Czech Republic?
To answer this, I first had to look at the statistics. In 2010, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), conducted a survey of it’s member states’ online shopping usage. The Czech Republic factored near the bottom of the list. While it had improved upon its usage from 2007, most Czech internet users did not shop online. It was not even the highest among Eastern European countries with Slovenia, Poland, and the Slovak Republic all placing higher.
Similar statistics can be found across the board. in 2011, the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) placed the Czechs among the lowest online shoppers in the European Union. However, it seems that Czech usage had grown from the OECD usage (beating out Poland). Perhaps this was due to the launch of ebay.cz in late 2010. Even though it was not shopping within the Czech Republic, it was still a form of online shopping.
A survey performed later that year by the international marketing research firm, the GfK group, the Czech Republic had the highest percentage of online shopping usage in Central and Eastern Europe. While it is not at the level of the Western countries, the Czech Republic leads in it’s neighborhood. So, putting this into perspective, Czechs are fairly advanced in the ways of online shopping.
Czech online shopping has increased greatly in the past few years. It has not reached Western levels yet, but is well on its way there. Besides greater internet saturation, there must be other reasons for this. One of things that could possibly be attributed to the rise of social media in the Czech Republic. Facebook usage has rapidly risen in recent years, as has Twitter. Companies can use these mediums to advertise their products to a wider audience. This is all made easier if the product is only a click away. Still this is limited mostly to individual companies or stores selling their goods directly to the consumer. There might also still be lingering loyalty to physical stores and less of a reliance on technology. However, judging from similar trends that happened in the Western countries, amazon.cz (or at least one for central Europe) may not be far off in our future.