GLOBAL: Seven European nations and three from Asia-Pacific make up the top ten markets considered by the United Nations to be most prepared to support online shopping and other business-to-consumer e-commerce.

For the third consecutive year, Luxembourg tops the annual B2C E-Commerce Index produced by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

UNCTAD, which is hosting an event this week to discuss the global digital economy, explained that its index, first published in 2015, draws on data covering internet usage, secure server density, payment account penetration and postal reliability.

By these measures, Switzerland secures second place (up from eighth in 2015), followed by Norway, the Netherlands, South Korea, the UK (up from tenth), Sweden, Japan, Germany and New Zealand.

Some 143 economies are included in the study and UNCTAD said this year’s index is an improvement on previous editions in terms of predicting the proportion of people who shop online because the data now includes those who use mobile payments.

Using the new methodology, the economies showing the greatest improvement compared with the previous year are Kazakhstan, Nigeria (both up 26 places) and Mongolia (up 24), largely because of their improved postal delivery systems.

Perhaps surprisingly, a number of major markets rank relatively low in the index, including the USA (#26), Malaysia (#38), Italy (#40), Brazil (#61), China (#64), South Africa (#71), India (#82) and Mexico (#89).

Meanwhile, those placed in the second tier include Iceland (#11), Australia (#14), Canada (#15), Hong Kong (#16), Singapore (#18), Ireland (#19) and France (#20).

By region, the index ranks the top economies for B2C e-commerce as Hong Kong (East and South Asia), the United Arab Emirates (West Asia and North Africa), Mauritius (Sub-Saharan Africa), Trinidad and Tobago (Latin America and the Caribbean) and Serbia (transition economies).

Commenting on the findings, Shamika Sirimanne, Director of UNCTAD's technology and logistics division, said: “An increasing number of countries are designing national policies and strategies to harness the full potential of e-commerce to promote inclusive growth.

“The UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index can help policy makers assess to what extent their economies are e-commerce ready and what areas are in greatest need of improvement.”

Sourced from UNCTAD; additional content by WARC staff