This month on BOXpoll, we’re asking US consumers about their international ecommerce buying behaviors—specifically in the United Kingdom, Canada, and China. (For the inverse of this research, check out our recent coverage of international consumers buying from US retailers.)
A couple of caveats before we dive in: The survey data below includes only consumers who shop cross-border and asks them about how their habits have (or haven’t) changed since last year. Also note that our survey focused on US consumer attitudes towards retailers located in the UK, Canada and China that ship to the US, rather than foreign brands with multinational presence (e.g., Adidas or Zara).
While most consumers (51%) reported no change in cross-border purchasing habits since last year and Gex X and Baby Boomers reported buying internationally less often overall, Gen Z and Millennials reported a net increase of international purchasing frequency. It’s no surprise the groups who already shop online most often increased cross-border purchases during a year we saw the value of the dollar rise against other currencies amid volatile global markets.
From here, we posed questions about online brands in specific countries.
Get in, loser, we’re going shopping
Unsurprisingly, US consumers shop more often from China than the UK or Canada—driven largely by marketplace sales. However, we were a bit surprised to see the UK get more love than Canada, whose retailers can offer significantly faster shipping times. However, the UK has many internationally renowned ecommerce brands (e.g., Harrods, Marks & Spencer, Asos, Superdry, Charles Thyrwitt, Charlotte Tilbury), compared to Canada’s comparatively fewer known offerings.
America’s next top cart abandonment trigger
When we asked what stops consumers from shopping with retailers in these countries more often, being able to find plenty of alternatives domestically topped the list for Canadian and UK purchases, while shipping time was the top gripe for Chinese purchases. Additionally, consumers are more sensitive to duties and taxes from the UK than from China or Canada.
Unsurprisingly, consumers have the fastest delivery expectations of our northern neighbor (3-6 days for “acceptable” speed) and grant the most leeway to China (6-10 days for “acceptable” speed).
How much is speed worth?
Lastly, we asked consumers how much they’d be willing to pay for shipping at different speeds for hypothetical orders worth $100 USD from each country. The fixed cost of the hypothetical item means the consumer is evaluating delivery distance and effort. (How far is it and how hard is it to move items from the given country to the US?)
Consumers gave similar responses for Canada and China, revealing a belief that it’s just as difficult to deliver items from Canada to the US as it is to deliver items from China.