Europeans Embrace Online Cross-Border Shopping

Trust, transparency and convenience are the stepping stones to e-commerce success.

The internet has reduced the world to a global village in the past few decades. Shopping has now become a global experience, enabling retailers to market and sell their products to customers anytime, anywhere. 

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When evaluating the purchase of an international product, respondents say trust is the No. 1 consideration.

At the same time, shoppers have equipped themselves with smartphones, 4G and various payment options like Apple Pay, PayPal and others. They’ve become increasingly tech savvy and learned to hunt for the best bargains from every corner of the world.

Insights from the latest UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper European Study underline this reality and show that online shoppers are comfortable with buying outside their domestic borders to find what they want, especially if it’s not available in their home market – or if it’s available at a better price in another country.

The findings reflect a growing trend in Europe where more and more European consumers are shopping online and have growing confidence in e-commerce – particularly in buying from other EU countries.

Trust, transparency and convenience

In the UPS study, most respondents said that when evaluating the purchase of a product from outside their home country, trust is the No.1 consideration, followed by transparency and convenience. Trust in this case comes in the form of payment security, which three-fourths of respondents said was important when deciding whether to buy from cross-border sites.

[Image: 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper European Study]

In terms of transparency, 72 percent of European online shoppers want to clearly see total cost of order, including duties and fees, while 63 percent like to see all prices stated in their home currency.

Convenience is the next key factor in influencing their decision. A clear returns policy with ease of return and speed of delivery all feature highly for more than six in 10 of the online shoppers surveyed.

The UPS study also found that shipping is a decisive element as part of the overall decision-making process. Shoppers expect a number of shipping options, depending on their particular need at the time. Free shipping is, of course, important – but premium options also are needed when the purchase is for a special occasion demanding a specific arrival date or to fulfil an urgent need.

Click here to download the EU Pulse of the Online Shopper study

Beyond different shipping options, flexibility on delivery site is an important consideration. Just 51 percent of shoppers prefer to have their orders delivered to their home (in 2015, when UPS last fielded the survey, 68 percent had a preference for home deliveries), which shows that alternative delivery and drop-off locations are attractive options.

On average, 41 percent of online orders are shipped to alternative delivery locations and, if there is a financial incentive, a total of 63 percent of online shoppers would prefer to have their order shipped to alternative delivery locations.

Five things you can you do to entice the international shopper

So as a European retailer, what can you can do to attract shoppers from other countries in Europe or other parts of the world?

Here are five key elements that should be top of mind for any retailer wanting to expand internationally:

  • First, you must ensure that you’re visible on search engines for the product you’re offering. If customers can’t find you, then you can’t sell to them.
  • Second, make your website user friendly for international visitors – for example, with different language options clearly marked on the home page or by providing full transparency on costs, including taxes and currency conversions.
  • Third, you need to think mobile first. Millennials surveyed in the study stated that they make nearly one quarter of their purchases via a smartphone, suggesting mobile commerce is poised for continued growth. It is therefore a must to deliver an excellent user experience on all devices and browsers.
  • Fourth, make it easy for the shopper, helping with answers to questions such as: Can I make this payment securely, how much is the total cost (including duties and delivery), how fast can I receive it and how easily can I return it?
  • Finally, as the UPS study shows, retailers also need to provide a full range of delivery options, including premium and alternative delivery. In fact, shoppers are even prepared to relax their speedy delivery expectations when shopping internationally.

In summary, European shoppers have truly embraced cross-border shopping.

Data from the UPS study shows that the path to success in attracting international customers runs through adopting a global mindset and strategy and focusing on trust, transparency and convenience.

You might also like:

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Abhijit Saha is Vice President of Marketing for UPS Europe, based in Brussels.

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