Gaining Ecommerce Ground as Globalization Increases

Susan Wall

As the saying goes, it’s a small world. But there’s nothing small about retail markets anymore. Global ecommerce has put the world at consumers’ fingertips. With this increased reach, it’s time to take steps to not only keep customers shopping in the home land, but to seize opportunities to acquire international customers who are interested in US goods.

In partnership with Ipsos and Censuswide, we surveyed consumers in Australia, UK and the US to answer key questions about the demographics of cross-border shopping, the factors that entice them to shop away from their home land as well as remaining barriers to global ecommerce. Our report, “Beyond Borders – Identifying Global Sales in a Shrinking Ecommerce World,” offers insights you can use to define your ecommerce marketing strategies and win in this growing global competition.

Our survey found that shoppers down under are very comfortable buying goods online from other countries. In fact, 71% of Australians say they have already purchased abroad. And there’s more good news: 60% of them did that shopping in America. Encouraging news, but also a wake-up call if your brand isn’t currently pursuing Australian consumers. Only 42% of UK consumers purchase cross-border, but 56% of those purchases went to the US. So the UK is also ripe for the taking.

And what about our American brothers and sisters? Are they looking to buy elsewhere? Yes, 44% chose a merchant in another country to make a purchase. Though consumers in all three geographies tend to buy from other English-speaking countries, China is also a top destination – 56% of US consumers who have purchased from merchants outside the US chose products from China.

Retailers can design marketing programs to appeal to regional shoppers’ motivations. For instance, consumers in Australia and the US say the top two reasons for buying from another country are better prices and unique merchandise. Although the top two are the same reasons UK consumers shop abroad, they cite unique merchandise as being most important with better prices coming in second. You should also keep in mind what keeps them from shopping with you. The largest barriers to global ecommerce are concerns about shipping costs, followed by distrust of online payments and security worries.  Americans have less patience for prolonged delivery, with the highest-ranked concern out of all three regions (43%) over Australia (37%) and the UK (31%).

The data gets really interesting when you compare the level of interest in purchasing from other countries to actual purchases. Only 6% of US shoppers have purchased from Australia. However, more than half (52%) say they are interested. The figures are similar for UK shoppers who have purchased from Canada (3%) with 45% who say they are willing. These insights can help you prepare for global expansion and also influence marketing strategies to protect against cross-border competition.

Knowledge is power. Now that you know what consumers are saying, you can creatively leverage their preferences to win new customers and maintain brand loyalty among existing customers. Price and unique merchandise will continue to be attractive to shoppers, so create offers that address these specifically. When shipping costs dominate shoppers’ concerns, make your policies clear. If you have unique merchandise shoppers can’t get elsewhere, shine a big spotlight on it. Use the findings in this report to plan for future growth both at home and abroad. It is a small world, after all.


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