August 23, 2012, 3:18 PM

Online sales grow in Turkey

The large youth population in the country is helping drive web sales.

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Turkey—a country with a population of 74 million located on the eastern borders of Europe and the western borders of Asia—is experiencing strong growth in online shopping, according to a new report by Euromonitor International, a global research company with analysts in 80 countries.

“The e-commerce sector is booming in Turkey, as a result of a large youth population familiar with new technology and solid economic growth,” a spokeswoman for Euromonitor International says. Turkey has a fast-growing youth population, with more than a quarter of its population younger than 14.

The value of goods sold online has grown 61.1% from 2006 to 2011, Euromonitor says, adding that it predicts online sales in Turkey will grow an additional 54% in real terms—that is excluding inflation—between 2012 and 2016.

Web sales are growing despite relatively low Internet usage in the country. While web use is growing, only about 43% of the country is online, according to Euromonitor. “Although Internet usage is expanding rapidly, telecom penetration levels remain below average western European levels, meaning online businesses have a limited audience both for sales and Internet marketing,” the spokeswoman says.

The latest report by the European Commission found that 74% of the European Union population had used the Internet at least once, and regular Internet users represent at least 65% of the population. The EC is predicting that 75% of the EU population will be regular Internet users by the end of 2012.

Consumers completed 35 million e-commerce transactions in Turkey in 2011, according to the Turkish Interbank Card Centre, up 57% compared with a year earlier, Euromonitor says.

Euromonitor says while the transaction data from Turkish Interbank Card Centre represents card use on the Internet, it does not represent the total monetary value of Internet retailing as some of the transactions taking place online could eventually be paid through other means, such as cash on delivery, or bank transfer.

Additionally, the spokeswoman says some of the online card transactions could be for sales of travel-related products—such as air fares and vacations—which it doesn’t include in its estimate of Internet retailing.

Euromonitor collected statistics from a range of sources to estimate the aggregate value of e-commerce transactions to be worth more than 2 billion Turkish lira ($1.1 billion) in 2011.

Euromonitor adds that the main drivers for the growth are:

• Strong macro-economic growth in Turkey

• Consumers becoming more comfortable with Internet technology

 • Improved telecom infrastructure

• One of the youngest populations in Europe, including many consumers comfortable purchasing online

Turkey’s gross domestic product grew 8.5% in 2011, according to the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting growth of 2.3% for 2012, which is significantly higher than the European Union, which is forecast to remain flat.

However, the Euromonitor spokeswoman adds that the ongoing economic problems in the eurozone may limit growth in the Turkey’s e-commerce sector.


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