How the Pandemic Changed Online Cross-Border Behaviour

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By Published On: March 12, 20210 Comments

Consumers from 40 countries have taken part in a study from International Post Corporation, representing 95 percent of global e-commerce. The respondents described how their behavioural habits have changed since the announcement of the pandemic. 

The pandemic has, without a doubt, changed the way consumers approached the retail industry. As the world faces the first anniversary of the pandemic, it’s important to recognise the changes that consumers have undertaken across the globe.

According to the report, 32 percent of online shoppers have purchased from cross-border e-commerce platforms in 2020. A further 51 percent said they plan to shop with cross-border retailers more often in the future.

This comes as the pandemic forced retailers to shift online to reduce the strain of store closures globally. As such, there were massive increases in online grocery, clothing and health products throughout the year, the report has found.

“Consumers expect to shop more online in the future from e-retailers based in their own countries and from e-retailers based abroad,” said Holger Winklbauer, the CEO of International Post Corporation.

Thirty percent of the consumers in the study said they had bought more apparel from foreign brands last year, with eight percent buying ‘significantly’ more in 2020. Across the categories, 26 percent more groceries online than the year prior, with ten percent increasing their purchases significantly.

According to the report, Chinese e-commerce dominated with cross-border customers, which they have done for five years in a row. However, the share has dipped from 36 percent to 34 percent throughout the span of 2020.

German online retailers attracted 14 percent of global cross-border transactions throughout 2020, up two percent from 2019. The US has held a steady 11 percent of the global share, while the UK’s share slipped one percent to 12 percent.

“COVID-19 has had a major impact on consumer online purchasing throughout 2020 and this report highlights there were big increases in the online purchase of groceries, clothing and health and beauty products throughout the last year,” explained Winklbauer.

“Importantly for postal operators, consumers expect to shop more online in the future from e-retailers based in their own countries and from e-retailers based abroad.”

According to the report, all respondents purchased physical goods online from international retailers in the last 12 months. Furthermore, they also purchased at least one item online every three months.

via NBC News

Amazon is the leading cross-border online retailer | via Amazon

International Winners

The big winners across the board include AliExpress/Alibaba, eBay, Wish, Zalando and Amazon.

Unsurprisingly, Amazon remains the most popular cross-border retailer, representing 26 percent of total cross-border sales online over 2020. Alibaba and its sibling company, AliExpress, came in a close second with 19 percent total market share, and eBay came in third with 11 percent.

The driving reasons behind this customer behaviour are often pointed towards the low prices provided by Chinese goods, as well as a ‘looming’ change in EU regulations.

These changes in the EU regulations could affect the prices for many European online shoppers. This could play a huge detriment to the retailers reaching international shoppers. The report found that a one Euro difference in prices could lead to 17 percent of shoppers to stop making purchases from Chinese sites, and 40 percent said they would shop less than before.

“My main takeaway from this data is that conversion and satisfaction are inherently tied to consumers being aware of what their total costs are,” explained Craig Reed, the Senior VP for Global Trade at Avalara Inc. “Whenever consumers are aware of what the total they have to pay is, conversion rates go up and dissatisfaction goes down.”

Sixty-one percent of shoppers said they received free shipping on their last cross-border purchase online, with five percent saying they returned their most recent orders.

However, ten percent said they were dissatisfied by the duty-payment processes, and three percent said they were ‘very dissatisfied’.

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