With the nation's e-commerce infrastructure edging towards maturity, online spending has surged by over 50 percent from a year ago and will continue to grow over time, according to the latest study released last week.
The study was conducted by the government-funded Institute for Information Industry's E-Commerce Resource Center, which polled over 1,000 online stores and companies operating virtual business from June to July this year.
The report showed that revenue of business-to-business transactions (B2B) via the Internet will reach NT$7.39 trillion this year, a 50 percent jump from NT$4.94 trillion last year, and will reach NT$10.66 trillion in 2008.
The online business-to-customer (B2C) market's revenue for this year is estimated to reach NT$34.72 billion, up from NT$22.09 billion, or 57.2 percent, from last year. The study projects the market will keep expanding to NT$95.22 billion in 2008.
Among the online stores polled, 50 percent said they were either breaking even or already made profits this year.
Most of consumers' online spending goes to travel services, including flight tickets and hotel bookings, which accounts for 68 percent of the total, up from 20 percent last year, the report said. Consumer electronics came in second with 17 percent, it added.
Online security, like last year, continues to be the greatest concern for people who shop in virtual stores. With reports of several Internet scams and online banking systems being intruded on by computer hackers during the past year, consumers have grown more concerned about paying online. Among people who were surveyed this year, 36.81 percent said they would rather go to brick-and-mortar stores to protect their wallets, up from 32.5 percent last year.
Despite the online B2C sector looking prosperous, online retailers said that like small and medium-sized enterprises, they have difficulty making their Web sites visible to buyers in the vast Internet territory, which is the largest obstacle in running their business.
"The Internet bubble, which seemed to have burst, was restored in late 2002, as was the hype of e-business," said Sophia Chang (張曉姝), manager of the center overseeing the project.
Those who have few resources in marketing their online shops may ally with Internet portals to increase access to users, or establish online shopping malls in tandem with other virtual stores, Chang said.
As online auctions offering bargain prices have been prevalent among users, customer-to-customer (C2C) e-commerce also saw significant improvement this year.
Yahoo-Kimo Inc (雅虎奇摩), the nation's largest online auction site, although collecting listing fees from sellers from April, reported an even higher transaction volume regardless of the amount of listed items dropping by half, the company said.
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Two other major online auctioneers are eBay Inc and Roodo (樂多市場). As eBay features an international platform, Roodo opened its space for B2C online retailers to attract customers.
Looking forward, the E-Commerce Resource Center said wireless Internet connections and a variety of mobile devices will facilitate e-commerce, making transactions virtually unrestricted. In addition, the center pointed out that e-commerce will extend to television commerce following the emergence of a digital broadcasting system. With an easy-to-use interface, TV-commerce is poised to create even larger business opportunities.