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Czech ecommerce exceeded expectations - report

Friday 8 January 2016 | 12:42 PM CET

In 2015, Czech ecommerce was more successful than expected and the future looks promising, a recent research study highlights.

In 2015, online sales accounted for 8.1% of total retail turnover, according to figures from the Association for Electronic Commerce (APEK), reports. The Czech Trade Inspection Authority, however, still urges people to seek out reputable online vendors with good references before spending money online.

“The year 2015 is evaluated unambiguously as positive. As confirmed by APEK data and, Czechs spent in domestic online stores more than Kč 81 billion for goods. Compared to the previous year, Czech ecommerce has achieved growth of over 20%,” APEK CEO Jan Vetýška said in a press release, the source cites.

In 2016, APEK expects Czech ecommerce to grow by at least 15%. Czech internet sales also confirm an increasingly significant growth in the proportion of total turnover achieved in the retail sector. “Compared to 2014, the proportion increased by 1 percentage point. The importance of e-commerce for the Czech Republic and the EU continues to grow rapidly,” he said.

During the last quarter of 2015, which includes the all-important Christmas season, turnover of goods sold on the Internet exceeded Kč 25 billion. This was also an improvement year-on-year. “At Christmas, almost everyone bought a gift at an e-shop. Electronics, cell phones, toys and clothing traditionally fared well. Perhaps the biggest hit, which saw the largest growth in popularity this year, was drones and their variants,” Vetýška said, adding that many retailer also offered significant discounts.

Goods returned after Christmas were not a significant percentage of sales compared to the past, and there was a decline of this trend, according to APEK. “In addition, for example, clothing or footwear is often instead exchanged for the proper size,” Vetýška said, adding that customers now know better what they want online.

The trend for buying a wider variety of goods online is also continuing. Before Christmas, for example, many customers bought food in e-shops and avoided the stress of crowded stores, according to APEK. In 2016, large players will continue to dominate the market, supplemented by specialized and professional shops.

“Customers shopping on the Internet are experienced. Unlike the past, they are not purchasing only electronics online, but from home they are ordering virtually everything imaginable,” Vetýška said.

He also added that as of 1 February, 2016, consumers will have more protection as new legislation will make settling disputes out of court easier and shoppers will be able to get increased support from the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (ČOI).

But not all news in the sector is good. Inspection results from the ČOI during the third quarter of 2015 showed that a high number of entrepreneurs in the online marketplace still failed to comply with all legal regulations. Flaws were discovered in 82% of 245 inspected e-shops and 186 fines.

“The inspected e-shops … failed to provide consumers with complete and true information about the offered goods, and about business terms and conditions as well as about the right from defective performance. This stems from almost 4,000 submissions from consumers who have turned to us since the beginning of the year [2015],” Mojmír Bezecný, the director general of the Czech Trade Inspection Authority, said in early December, urging that even stricter rules be adopted.

Problems, in particular, were found with vendors who could not be identified or who were deceptive about their identity and with online sales over social media. “We therefore recommend consumers to buy … from vendors with whom they have already had good experience or about whom they have good references,” Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek said during the Christmas shopping season.

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