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66pc of global online consumers now shop across borders: report

October 13, 2016

A new report sheds light on global ecommerce habits

A new report sheds light on global ecommerce habits

Shopping outside of one’s own domestic market is becoming increasingly prevalent in global ecommerce, especially in developed offshore markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a new survey conducted by Pitney Bowes.

The survey delineates the tendencies of certain shoppers to leverage an increasingly interconnected ecommerce marketplace, and also highlights growth in mobile ecommerce in emerging markets, where mobile is both preferred and necessary for connectivity. The information provided in the report will be of use to marketers who are looking to organically penetrate international markets.

“Consumers want to shop the way they want to shop, and increasingly that means shopping on a mobile device,” said Kathy Raymond, communications director at Pitney Bowes. “What we saw in the study is that throughout the shopping journey, mobile devices are playing an increasingly greater role.

“Roughly half of shoppers in Singapore at 58 percent, India at 50 percent, Mexico at 49 percent and China at 47 percent were most likely to use a mobile device (including tablets and phones) for browsing. These are countries that also have high frequencies of online shopping domestic and cross-border.”

Global marketplace
The report confirms what many in online marketing already know: that the ubiquity of ecommerce is approaching more rapidly than previously thought. Nearly one-third of surveyed consumers reported that they make domestic online purchases on a daily or weekly basis, with the number being over two-thirds in China.

Pitney Bowes’ report also focuses on the role mobile platforms play in the evolution of the ecommerce experience.

Mobile is increasingly being seen as the main technological hub worldwide

Roughly half of shoppers in both established markets such as Singapore and emerging markets such as India, Mexico and China self-reported as being likely to use a mobile device for ecommerce purposes. When tracking orders, the figure jumps to more than half of users who use mobile.

The U.S. follows a similar paradigm: while only one-third of shoppers self-report using mobile to complete ecommerce purchases, mobile usage increases significantly to almost half when tracking a purchased item.

Mobile is also at the forefront of marketing and lead generation, with roughly two-thirds of respondents from emerging markets such as India, China and Mexico reporting that they received relevant mobile notifications from retailers based on location.

Pitney Bowes’ survey produced a variety of metrics

Emerging mobile markets
With ecommerce becoming increasingly comfortable for global consumers despite initial hesitancies based on fraud concerns, consumers will come to see international and currency borders as arbitrary to the shopping process.

The surge in mobile penetration and transactions in emerging markets could provide a case study in how a truly global market operates. Brands are already trying to tailor their product to the unique needs of emerging markets, such as Shazam, which released a slimmed down version of its music recognition app for users in areas with limited connectivity (see story).

Uber has followed suit, assisting its investments in China and India by rolling out in-app solutions for customer service issues, a necessary advancement geared towards those consumers who tend not to have email addresses (see story).

“The diversity of consumer preferences suggests that it’s no longer an either/or decision,” Ms. Raymond said. “Instead, consumers want options— whether that is on search, shipping or even payments.

“For overall international ecommerce success, delivering what consumers want and how they like to shop is a great place to start. Understanding local nuances is critical, but the true challenge in optimizing cross-border commerce is managing the real complexity.

“Staying current with technology and consumer demand is challenging even in domestic markets. When you consider the cross-border ecommerce transaction, it is extraordinarily complex.

“That’s why retailers need to find the right third-party to partner with that will allow them the capabilities they need to deliver the right seamless cross-border experience.”

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Rakin Azfar is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach him at

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