UK tops Euro league in e-commerce

Britain leads Europe in ecommerce but digital government is a long way behind
Britain leads Europe in ecommerce but digital government is a long way behind

The UK is a nation of digital shopkeepers, according to the latest European Commission survey.

Britain leads Europe in the percentage of businesses with an online presence (a third of all companies), and is in the top three of Europe for e-commerce as a proportion of all turnover.

We're also in the premier league for shopping online, with 57 per cent of consumers and 47 per cent of businesses shopping virtually, and a healthy 15 per cent selling online.

Lots of broadband, but it ain't quick

The UK is a leader in broadband coverage (99.8 per cent of the population), broadband take-up (62 per cent), uploading user-generated content and streaming music or video. We're also digital workaholics, with Britain in the top tier of countries for people looking for jobs and studying online, and second in terms of computer skills in the working population.

However, it's not all good news. Despite high-speed promises, the UK is 12th in Europe in terms of broadband connections above 2Mbps, and 12th in using 3G phones for web services (despite our early access to the iPhone 3G). We're also only average in our use of internet banking and health services.

When it comes to e-government, the UK languishes at the very bottom of the digital league tables. We're 15th in terms of using official sites to submit forms like tax returns, and a miserable 21st (out of 27) for businesses using e-government services. Similarly, UK businesses aren't using the internet to electronically issue invoices, manage their supply chains or integrate business processes.

There's lots more data on the EU website here.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.