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Shopping Without Borders

February 9, 2015

To many, shopping is a competitive sport – and the Internet provides new and changing fields on which to play the game. Each year new teams are added to the competition as developing markets gain access to the Internet via tablets and mobile devices.

Online shopping represents over $1 trillion in annual sales and is expected to nearly double in the next four years, according to Forrester Research data. During this time, increasingly sophisticated global online shoppers will continue to have access to global products at competitive prices.

FedEx has commissioned a new study by Forrester Consulting about the online shopping habits of global consumers. The survey was conducted with 9000 participants across 17 global markets – six in Asia, five in Europe, four in Latin America, as well as the United States and Canada. When asked if they’d made an online purchase cross-border, 82% reported making an online purchase of a physical item from a merchant outside their own home country, and the rates varied just minimally across international regions.

Simply stated, ecommerce is a global powerhouse and cross-border shopping plays a significant role in the online consumer experience.

In the Forrester survey, global respondents reported spending $300 on average annually on cross-border items, with Chinese and Canadians spending the most. Most Americans in the survey look to international SME retailers for specialty and unique items, in fact 51% of Americans vs 34% of global respondents cited it was the availability of ‘specialty/hard to find items’ as a reason for shopping cross-border.

In each of the countries, researchers also interviewed small and mid-size businesses with cross-border online shoppers. Their advice to other SMEs? Utilize multi-brand retailers because independent small businesses benefit selling through a trusted, recognized global marketplace rather than going it alone. The owner of a small German music supply shop said, “We use them because it’s a good way to reach further with few risks.” Plus it generates consumer reviews from a wider world audience.

If small businesses capitalize on their strengths of having unique items and utilize logistics experts they can often allay concerns that may limit cross-border purchases. As one UK printing company manager noted about international paperwork issues: “This is something you have to make sure is done absolutely right… Every country has specific taxes, currencies, payments, etc. So I’m looking for somebody who may be able to facilitate those requirements.”

We happen to know exactly where to look. At FedEx, we have experience overcoming obstacles to help streamline international ecommerce for SMEs every day.

Global ecommerce is powerful and thriving and when you ask the same question about shopping preferences in various regions around the world, the results offer intriguing insights. If you’re curious about how global cultures view online shopping, check out the study – and the next time you’re shopping online, you may want to look at what’s offered from the playing field on the other side of the border.


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