How are we buying cross-border?

17 May, 2017

Cross-border e-commerce is continuing to grow in popularity, thanks to innovations in technology and traditional barriers falling between countries.

So how are we buying across borders in 2017?

The latest cross-border e-commerce shopper survey by IPC reveals all, demonstrating how retailers can build a better customer experience and make the most of their e-commerce opportunities around the world.

The survey examines the responses of nearly 25,000 people from 26 countries, including sixteen European countries, the United States, and China.

Online shopping is clearly a part of daily life for many people

All of the survey respondents had bought physical goods online at least once in the last three months, while all of them had made at least one cross-border purchase in the past twelve. 31% buy online once a month, with 23% of respondents buying once a fortnight and a dedicated 16% choosing to click and buy once a week or more. This is especially true in China, where over a third (36%) of respondents make an online purchase at least once a week.

So how are we buying? Desktop still has a significant share (36%) and is most popular with men and older shoppers, but laptop is king – 41% of respondents prefer to complete their online orders on the smaller computers. M-commerce is on the rise, particularly with younger generations – 14% prefer smartphones, with just 8% opting for tablets.

Tech innovations don’t stop there, however. Alternative payments are beginning to dominate the online shopping landscape, with PayPal (or equivalent) counting for 41% of orders. Moreover, German, Australian, Spanish, and Italian consumers are most likely to be plumping for PayPal, with more than 60% of respondents in each country choosing this payment method. However, credit card is still in second place and is the top choice in 11 countries, so it’s important to consider the individual markets your business is operating in.

And where are consumers buying from?

The report takes a particular look at European consumers, revealing that there are a few key shopping destinations: China, the United States, UK, France, and Germany. As the report notes ‘large e-commerce countries have a dominant impact on their smaller neighbours’, citing Irish shoppers preferring UK sites, Austrians choosing German shops, and Canadians turning to businesses based in the US.

The IPC also examined the ‘Big 3’ marketplace websites: Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba, which hold significant influence when it comes to cross-border e-commerce.