In 2011, only 13 per cent of the companies in the information economy sold products and services on the Internet. However, 65 per cent of the companies within this sector used the Internet to obtain goods and services. These are the results of a representative company survey conducted by the Centre for European Economic Research in March 2012.
Selling goods and services on the Internet constitutes an attractive alternative to the traditional way of selling, and has gained importance during the last years. In 2011, about 13 per cent of the companies within the economic sector of the information economy sold their goods and services also on the Internet. However, there are significant differences between the several sub-sectors. While in the ICT sector, nearly 20 per cent of the companies distribute their goods and services to other companies or final customers via the Internet, this share is clearly higher for the media service providers with 43 per cent. In contrast, the knowledge-intensive service providers clearly lag behind with only about eight per cent of the companies having offered e-commerce in 2011. This might be strongly accounted for by the characteristics of the services within this sector. Consulting services, for example, often require the presence of the customer, making it difficult to trade them on the Internet.
Compared to selling, the share of companies buying goods and services on the Internet is significantly larger. More than 65 per cent of the companies within the information economy do already take advantage of this option. In the ICT sector, purchasing via e-commerce is at the highest level with 82 per cent, but also the majority of the knowledge-intensive service providers does meanwhile purchase goods and services on the Internet.
At present, considerably fewer companies in the information economy use the Internet for business abroad. In 2011, altogether about six per cent of them sold their goods and services to other countries on the Internet. Again, the media sector is especially active within the information industry. More than 23 per cent of the companies indicate to have distributed their goods and services abroad. In the ICT sector, the share of companies with sales to other countries on the Internet is clearly smaller. Only slightly over nine per cent of the companies used this distribution channel in 2011. The generally small part of companies of the knowledge-intensive service providers selling on the Internet can also be seen with sales activities abroad. The sector is clearly behind the media service providers and the ICT sector.
More Companies Aim to Sell Abroad via E-Commerce
For 2012, nine per cent of the companies in the information economy plan to sell their goods and services abroad. This corresponds to an increase of three percentage points compared to 2011. This year, especially the ICT service providers and the media service providers want to expand their sales abroad via e-commerce compared to the previous year: the ICT service providers by 4.5 percentage points and the media service providers by more than eleven percentage points.
The economic survey conducted by ZEW
About 5,000 businesses with a minimum of five employees participate in the quarterly survey conducted by ZEW. The companies surveyed belong to the following business sectors: (1) ICT hardware, (2) ICT service providers, (3) media, (4) law and tax consultancy, accounting, (5) public relations and business consultancy, (6) architectural and engineering offices, technical, physical and chemical analysis, (7) research and development, (8) advertising industry and market research, (9) other freelance, academic and technical activities. Combined, all nine sectors make up the economic sector of the information industry. The ICT sector consists of ICT hardware and ICT service providers. The last six sectors make up the knowledge-intensive service providers.
Overview of the ZEW economy survey (German language only)
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