Almost Half of US Online Shoppers Have Made A Cross-Border Purchase

October 3, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Europe & Middle East | Industries | Retail & E-Commerce | UK

Some 47% of online shoppers in the US report having made an international purchase at some point in the past year, reveals UPS in the third installment [pdf] of its Pulse of the Online Shopper series. That figure is up from 40% a couple of years ago, indicating a growing comfort with such purchases.

Past research from Pitney Bowes has similarly found that 45% of online shoppers in the US have made a purchase across borders. That was below the 66% global average, which was led by consumers in Singapore (89%), Australia (86%) and Hong Kong (85%).

In this latest UPS study, those who had made a purchase from an international retailer most commonly ordered from the Asia-Pacific region (75%), with China (61%) figuring prominently.

By comparison, fewer (32%) bought from Europe, with the UK (23%) seemingly the standout in that region.

Why Buy Internationally?

Online shoppers are primarily motivated by price when shopping from international retailers: 43% did so because they found a better price offered by an international retailer on a US marketplace.

The product also has a strong role to play: around one-third said they wanted something unique that can’t be found in US stores, or that the brands or products they like aren’t available in the US.

When making an international purchase, roughly three-quarters consider the total cost of the order including duties and fees being clearly stated (77%). A similar number make sure that all prices are stated in their home currency (76%) and that the retailer is reputable (74%).

Marketplaces Driving the Trend?

One of the main reasons shopper buy internationally is having found the retailer on a marketplace. So cross-border commerce might be expected to rise, as online shoppers gravitate more to marketplaces.

In fact, the UPS study indicates that virtually all online shoppers surveyed (97%) have made a purchase from a marketplace, up from 87% last year. These shoppers are driven mostly by better prices and free and discounted shipping.

The most popular of these marketplaces is of course Amazon (90%), followed by Walmart/Jet (63%) and eBay (46%).

Their influence should continue to expand, per the report. Around 3 in 10 survey respondents plan research and purchase products more on marketplaces in the future, including 37% of Millennials and 39% of those who make purchases on their smartphones.

About the Data: The sixth annual UPS Pulse of the Online ShopperTM study was fielded in Q1 2017 and is based on the input from more than 5,189 qualified comScore panelists who made at least two online purchases in a typical three-month period.

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