European E-Commerce Groups Decide To Say What They Mean

With E-Commerce, sometimes it's hard just to figure out what analysts are talking about. Tackling that problem, the U.K.-based E-Commerce trade group IMRG on Friday (Oct. 22) announced a new E-Commerce measurement standard that's being supported by similar groups in Germany, France and Belgium. The Global B2C E-Commerce Measurement Standard (GEMS) sounds impressive, but the "standard" actually consists of definitions of 10 terms (including "e-retail," "e-retail shopping," "payment" and "a week"), along with 22 retail categories that the groups count as E-Commerce and another 10 that the groups exclude.

It's hard to imagine a better illustration of how far behind the curve everyone is when it comes to tracking E-Commerce. The industry is literally still deciding what words mean. Yes, it's helpful to have consistent terms for trade groups and analysts across Europe to use, so no one has to guess whether E-Commerce is supposed to include gardening supplies (yes) or online gambling (no). But at this rate, it's going to be a while before everyone in European E-Commerce is speaking the same language.

For the record, here's what these 10 E-Commerce terms mean, according to GEMS:

E-retail: 'what consumers buy through automated shopping channels.'

E-retail shopping: 'consumer transactions completed fully, including payment or arrangement for payment, via interactive channels' from any location, including in-store.

E-retail sales: 'gross payments made by consumers to merchants during specified time periods.'

Currency: the 'euro' will be the default currency used for reporting GEMS values.

Payment: 'payment online, by telephone, by post, by cash on delivery or by billing for later payment.'

Cross border: 'sales from outside the country where the retailer's sales (or fulfillment) operation is based.'

A week: 'is assumed to run from Sunday to Saturday, although this may vary.'

Gross order value: 'includes all online shopping orders placed, regardless of stock position/bad debt etc.—this illustrates market demand.'

Accepted order value: 'all accepted online orders minus those canceled as the result of credit vetting, fraud risk assessment, stock reasons (e.g., permanently unavailable), etc.; i.e., those actually processed, including backorders—this illustrates confirmed sales, ignoring returns, cancellations, etc.'

Orders from existing customers: 'is measured as the percentage of repeat customers.'

GEMS sector classifications for products and services bought online by consumers from businesses:

  • Beer/wine/spirits
  • Books
  • CDs/tapes/records
  • Clothing/footwear/accessories
  • Computer hardware/peripherals/consumables
  • Consumer electronics
  • Digital downloads (e.g., music, software)
  • Flowers
  • Food, beverages and household supplies
  • Furniture
  • Garden/DIY
  • Health and beauty
  • Home appliances (e.g., washing machines)
  • Household goods (e.g.. kitchenware, bedding)
  • Jewelry/watches
  • Software
  • Sporting goods
  • Tickets (e.g., cinema, theatre, events)
  • Toys
  • Travel (e.g., flights, holidays, hotels, car hire)
  • Video games
  • Videos/DVDs

Online spending excluded from GEMS:

  • Adult
  • Auctions
  • Cars/motor vehicles
  • Consumer-to-consumer sales
  • Gambling
  • Gaming
  • Houses/real estate
  • Telecom services
  • Utilities (e.g., water, heating, electricity)
  • Financial services