For Many Retailers, the Lure of Cross-Border Ecommerce Is Profit

Over 80% of retailers worldwide agree that it is 

March 26, 2018

Whether it’s mainly a sign of consumers taking initiative on their own, or them being lured by ever-increasing options and deals, digital cross-border buying continues to grow in popularity. 

Per a 2017 Pitney Bowes survey of consumers in 12 countries, 70% of online buyers made a purchase from a foreign site in 2017, up 6 percentage points from the year before.

In turn, retailer confidence is up. Half of retail professionals worldwide surveyed by Payvision and Juniper Research in August 2017 agreed that cross-border ecommerce has been profitable, while a very respectable 31% strongly agreed with the statement.

A majority of retailers in Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the US offered online sales to international customers as of June 2017, according to Pitney Bowes, and nearly one-third or more in each country planned to offer cross-border ecommerce within a year.

"Marketplaces continue to grow in importance, for both domestic ecommerce and shopping on foreign sites," said eMarketer's Krista Garcia. "In fact, marketplaces were deemed the biggest 'game-changer' in the Payvision study, knocking mcommerce, the No. 1 answer for the past three years, to fourth place."

Pitney Bowes found that worldwide, 59% of domestic online purchases occur on marketplaces like eBay or Flipkart, and the percentage was even high for cross-border purchases (62%). These platforms are perceived to have better selection and prices. Amazon was the leading marketplace used by cross-border buyers worldwide for their most recent purchase, at 25%, according to an October 2017 International Post Corporation (IPC) survey. eBay (18%) and Alibaba (14%) followed.

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Analyst Krista Garcia sat down in eMarketer's podcast studio to discuss cross-border shopping behaviors in multiple markets around the world.