E-shopping in the Netherlands: does geography matter?
Why consumers shop via the Internet, is a frequently asked question. As yet, the impact of spatial variables on e-shopping has received little attention. In this paper we report our investigation of the spatial distribution of Internet users and online buyers in the Netherlands for the time period 1996 – 2001 and the impact of spatial variables (residential environment and shop accessibility) on e-shopping. Two hypotheses are tested empirically. The first is that e-shopping is a predominantly urban phenomenon, because new technology usually starts in centres of innovation (innovation-diffusion hypothesis). The second is that people are more likely to adopt e-shopping when their accessibility to shops is relatively low (efficiency hypothesis). Our findings indicate that Internet use and online buying are still largely urban phenomena in the Netherlands, but that there is a trend towards diffusion to the weakly urbanised and rural areas. Not only the innovation diffusion hypothesis, but also the efficiency hypothesis is confirmed by our findings. People living in a (very) strongly urbanised area have a higher likelihood of buying online, but people with a low shop accessibility buy more often online. The analysis also shows that the support for the two hypotheses depends on the type of product. Airline tickets are still mainly bought in very strongly urbanised areas, whereas compact discs, videos, DVDs, and clothing are bought relatively more often in weakly urbanised areas. In conclusion, geography seems to matter for e-shopping.
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