Shopping online has become big business and American consumers have long been in the forefront, but things have changed in recent years and mainland shoppers are now leading the pack. A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that mainland consumers are four times more likely to shop online compared to European shoppers and nearly twice as often as online shoppers in the United States and Britain. According to the global multichannel retail survey, about 70 per cent of respondents on the mainland shop online at least once a week, compared with about 40 per cent in the US and Britain, and about 20 per cent for the Netherlands, France and Switzerland. PwC says it commissioned 7,005 online surveys to discover the habits and preferences of online shoppers across three continents covering eight markets in August and September last year. The markets covered were the US, the mainland, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Britain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. More than 905 online shoppers were surveyed across 27 cities on the mainland. 'One of the biggest overall conclusions is that consumers are leading the way in multichannel shopping, with many retailers lagging behind in terms of meeting their needs,' says Stuart Harker, PwC's global retail and consumer goods advisory leader. 'Today's global retailers have a huge opportunity to enhance the mechanisms necessary to keep up with shoppers who are demanding more customisation in terms of delivery and returns, product choice, and number of channels from which to choose.' One of the important findings was the self-described sophistication of the online shoppers surveyed. Many of the respondents consider themselves highly capable in terms of researching and purchasing via the internet. Some 69 per cent of respondents consider themselves to be either 'confident' or 'experts' in this regard. On the mainland, the proportion of these 'expert' shoppers is highest, at 86 per cent. PwC says that as 'expert' shoppers, mainland consumers have embraced the online medium far more quickly than shoppers from other countries. Even though online shoppers on the mainland are relative newcomers in terms of the average number of years since their first online purchase, they have the highest level of perceived expertise and shop more frequently than all the other surveyed markets. Mainland online shoppers also had markedly different survey responses than in other countries. A mainland shopper in the survey buys a far higher proportion of goods online than respondents from other countries, and does so across all categories.