In the past 10 years, the concept of eCommerce amongst Maltese has changed from a vague myth to a thriving reality. In Malta, online activity by both consumers and businesses is growing. A survey conducted by NS0 in 2010 revealed that 94% of Maltese businesses use the Internet and 70% of these Maltese businesses own a website or a home page. Maltese businesses generated over €1.3 billion in eCommerce sales in 2010, this accounts to 21% of the total turnover for businesses that own an eCommerce site (NS0, 2011). In addition, 25% of the businesses surveyed had placed orders via computer networks in 2010. In monetary terms, this accounted for more than €1.1 billion (NSO, 2010). When comparing these statistics with those of previous years, we can undoubtedly say that in Malta online activity by businesses is on the increase.
Online activity by Maltese consumers
A survey carried out by NSO in 2010 revealed that 70% of the Maltese respondents accessed the Internet. According to Alexa.com, in 2012 the most popular websites in Malta were Google, Facebook, YouTube and timsofmalta.com. Other popular sites amongst Maltese are Wikipedia, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and eCommerce sites such as eBay and Amazon (Alexa.com 2012).
The NSO survey also found that 61% of Maltese Internet users stated that they have purchased goods and services over the internet (NSO, 2011). However, the usage of eCommerce seems to be related to the level of education of the respondents.The higher the educational level, the higher the rate of eCommerce usage, in fact 78% of university graduates respondents in 2010 stated that they have used eCommerce. Furthermore, the usage of eCommerce is also related to the employment situation of respondents, if individuals are gainfully occupied then there is a higher probability that they make use of eCommerce sites (NSO, 2011).
It is also interesting to note that the percentage of Maltese Internet users for respondents aged 16- 34 is 68%, this is significantly higher than the 61% average. Moreover from 2009 to 2010, there was a significant 10% increase in the usage of online trade amongst 45- 74 year olds. These statistics indicate that eCommerce usage amongst Maltese is there to stay and might increase substantially in the coming years.
Maltese eCommerce shoppers by age
The usage of the Internet and online purchases are very likely to be related to changes in culture, education and lifestyle. Currently, in Malta there is a campaign to improve family-friendly measures aimed at increasing the women’s employment rate. A rise in the number of working women could also increase the amount of shoppers that might opt to purchase online and also carry out other errands over the internet such as Internet banking or eGovernment services. This might be an interesting opportunity for Maltese businesses.
Industries most likely to benefit from eCommerce in Malta
According to the research carried out by the NSO in 2010, 50% of Internet users in Malta purchased items of clothing. Around 37% purchased books, magazines and newspapers, 29% purchased holiday and accommodation services, around 27% purchased transport arrangements and 26% purchased telecommunication services over the web.
Most purchased products on the internet by Maltese
Other types of goods and services are also frequently bought over the Internet by Maltese, including films and music (22.5 %) and tickets for events (20% of respondents). NSO’s statistics also reveal that 92% of goods purchased via eCommerce in Malta originated from other EU member states.
What is certain is that for some businesses in Malta, eCommerce provides the potential that can be used to reach new business opportunities. eCommerce might be an option for businesses that would want to reach new market segments or target international customers.
In today’s highly competitive business environment, successful companies are proactive and are able to reap the advantage of new technologies. Such companies are able to stand out and provide a superior customer experience.