Cross-border shopping is the avenue of choice for consumers in Australia, Singapore, Canada, Mexico and Hong Kong, according to the latest survey from Pitney Bowes.
The data shows that Australia at 78 percent is the top country for cross-border shopping, followed by Singapore at 77 percent. Canada follows at 72 percent, then Mexico at 71 percent and Hong Kong at 70 percent. That’s compared with the U.S. at 45 percent and Japan at 34 percent. The majority of consumers, at 58 percent, shop monthly or annually.
Lila Snyder, president, global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes, said those countries have a higher level of cross-border shopping due to the local retail environment. “There’s demand for a broader set of options than what they can get at home. Australia is a smaller country, so it has a limited number of retailers. The U.S has more options, so it’s lower on the list, and in China, authenticity is key so consumers feel safer buying cross-border from the U.S. or the U.K. because there they can trust the authenticity of the products they purchase,” Snyder explained.
Snyder also said that consumers — primarily from South Korea, China and India — were most likely to arrive at a destination with an empty suitcase and then go home with it filled up. “These consumers revisit the retailers online following their international travels. We were surprised about the magnitude. The fact is that two-thirds of consumers that shop cross-border have gone to a store while traveling, then shopped the retailer cross-border once they got home.”
The study results are from the third-annual Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Survey. It was conducted online in August by ORC International and surveyed 13,000 adults across 13 countries. In the latest study, cross-border e-commerce has become prevalent among consumers globally. While 94 percent surveyed frequently make domestic online purchases, more than two-thirds, or 66 percent, who have made a domestic online purchase have also made one from another country in the past year.
According to the survey, about a quarter of global shoppers choose the retailer’s direct site for all or most of their cross-border shopping. The top three direct-to-retail countries are Canada at 35 percent, South Korea at 34 percent and Australia at 33 percent.
As for shopping on a mobile device, about half of shoppers in Singapore at 51 percent, India at 50 percent, Mexico at 49 percent and China at 47 percent were most likely to use a smartphone or tablet for browsing. The devices were also used for order tracking. While mobile is not necessarily the first choice for completing a purchase, at some point in the shopping journey, it does play a role. Currently in the U.S. about one-third use mobile for completing a purchase, although that percentage rises to 47 percent regarding mobile usage for tracking items post-purchase.
Survey results also indicated that marketplaces (62 percent), search engines (43 percent) and retailers’ sites (39 percent) were still the more popular discovery tools. In countries such as Hong Kong (26 percent), Australia (24 percent) and Singapore (22 percent), e-mail communications were a primary form of discovery. Further, nearly one-fifth, or 19 percent, of consumers are discovering new brands or products through social media channels. The top countries where consumers rely on social media channels are Hong Kong at 45 percent; Mexico, 32 percent, and India and Singapore, each at 30 percent.
Snyder said that many presume the consumer has moved on to the marketplace model, such as Rakuten or Amazon, adding that in reality “most consumers shop both channels, a marketplace site and a retailer’s site. Or they go to the web site of a brand. Half say their primary route is the marketplace, but a quarter or more like to shop at a retailer’s site and then fill in with a marketplace site.”
Further, while credit cards, at 45 percent, were the preferred method of payment online, e-wallets were the second-most popular payment method, at 34 percent, for cross-border purchases. This was the first year that the company asked about e-wallets. Snyder said that if companies only allow credit cards as payment, they could be missing out on sales because the survey results indicate that there are many “consumers who don’t shop with a credit card.”