When it comes to the online shopping habits of the global consumer, shoppers’ preferences are as distinct as the countries themselves.
From where and how they shop online to their concerns over pricing and shipping, the latest survey of international e-commerce trends from Pitney Bowes shows differences in consumer behavior.
The firm’s second annual Global Online Shopping Study, noted that “retailers looking to expand their brands globally should consider cultural norms and shopping preferences of consumers around the world.” The report states that globally most consumers — 62 percent — use search engines as a “preferred method to find products.”
Regarding purchasing, survey results showed a greater overall preference for e-commerce sites. “When international consumers were asked what types of online sites they would consider purchasing from, 66 percent chose online marketplaces, while 62 percent selected retailers’ Web sites,” the researchers said.
Lila Snyder, president of global e-commerce at the company, said in today’s “global marketplace, e-commerce is continuing to connect the world’s economies in new ways, making it possible for brands to sell, compete and expand their footprint. By focusing on the consumer — what they want and how they like to shop — brands can develop the right road map to achieve global e-commerce success.”
The findings reveal the importance for retailers and pure-play e-commerce sites to consider strengthening their cultural competencies to better meet the needs of the global consumer.
Broken down by country, the research showed that 78 percent of consumers in Russia and 76 percent in the U.S. and China preferred buying items from online marketplaces while the majority of shoppers in Australia, the U.K. and Canada preferred a retailer’s Web site. Germany had the “highest percentage [46 percent] of online shoppers that said they would consider purchasing products they found on search engines.” A high percentage of consumers in Japan — 40 percent — and South Korea — 33 percent — also said they would consider buying items found on search engines.
With social media, the highest number of consumers who would “consider buying products online from social media sites were in India (27 percent), followed by Brazil (15 percent) and Russia (14 percent),” the report said.
By age demographic, the survey showed 28 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 21 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds, globally, “visit social media sites for inspiration when searching for products.
“Compare this to only 16 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds, 12 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds and seven percent of 55-year-olds and higher,” the researchers said.
“Also, online shoppers in India [38 percent] ranked highest for searching for products on social media sites, followed by Brazil [21 percent] and China [20 percent].”
One key finding that reflects what industry analysts have been saying for the past six months is the explosive growth of mobile devices and its use in shopping online. “Nearly a quarter of consumers said they make the most online purchases on mobile devices — including mobile/smartphones, tablets or other devices — or a mix of devices,” the report stated. “Online shoppers in the U.K. [37 percent], India [36 percent] and China [34 percent], and the U.S. [29 percent] had the highest rates for using a mobile device, or mix of devices.”
In regard to barriers to online shopping, high shipping costs, additional fees — to be paid at delivery — and lengthy delivery times were the top concerns. Product returns and return policies were also problematic, the survey found. Other barriers included product descriptions in a foreign language and non-local currency pricing.