ONLINE shopping is becoming more common in Slovakia. Market watchers as well as online shops report increasing sales as well as a fall in Slovaks’ reluctance to use the internet for shopping.
“The e-shop is a significant, serious rival to traditional stores,” Ľubomír Drahovský, a market analyst with Terno, a market survey agency, told The Slovak Spectator. “The increasing usage of the web [is increasing online sales] to the detriment of sales in traditional stores.” A survey conducted by Deloitte in the autumn of 2009 indicated that Slovaks are going online to do their Christmas shopping because of the extensive range on offer and direct delivery to their homes, as well as to avoid crowds in traditional shops.
Price remains one of the reasons why Slovaks shop online, while a previously large obstacle – customers’ desire to handle goods which they want to buy – has become less important. Competition from abroad has also increased. According to Drahovský, Slovaks buy online in US, British and other foreign stores since prices in these countries are very attractive for Slovaks.
“People are gradually getting used to online shopping,” he said, adding that their response to positive experiences, when goods arrive as promised and mailing costs are not too expensive, is very good and generates strong competition for traditional stores in the country. He estimates the annual rise in online shopping to be 20 percent, while greater trust in internet shops and mailing services as well as the reduced need to handle goods before purchase is making this way of shopping more attractive in Slovakia.
TNS SK, another market research agency, reported from a survey it carried out focusing on the internet and shopping that almost all internet users have experiences with online shopping. It found that Slovaks use online outlets principally to buy books, clothing and electrical appliances. More than 50 percent of customers went on the internet because of the lower price of goods there, according to the survey whose results TNS SK published in early November.
Books remain the most popular goods purchased online, with 42.7 percent of respondents reporting that they had bought books in an e-shop during the previous six months. Clothing (34.2 percent) and electrical appliances (29.1 percent) followed. Other goods selling well online include tickets for various events as well as flights.
The experience of online shops hej.sk and mall.sk is that this year the Christmas shopping season has arrived later, but as Jitka Součková, marketing and PR manager of hej.sk told The Slovak Spectator, in greater volumes, with orders up by 22 percent during the third and fourth weeks of November. In general, online shops say, they are benefiting from the crisis due to their lower prices.
Součková and Martin Derňar, marketing director of mall.sk, see huge space for the further development of online shopping in Slovakia.
“Statistics show that online shopping in Slovakia is far from widespread as it is in most of the countries of western Europe,” Derňar told The Slovak Spectator. “Equally, it is less developed than in the Czech market, but is comparable with Hungary and Poland.”
Derňar expects that online shopping will get a boost, especially in the sale of clothing, where customers of traditional catalogue sellers are already moving from printed catalogues to much more interactive internet presentations. Derňar and Součková do not perceive foodstuffs as suitable for online sale since these goods are sensitive to storage and their logistics are demanding and expensive.
“Cheap goods are not suitable for internet shops either since the price of shipment can double the final price of the goods,” said Součková.