Survey: These consumers are the most likely to make cross-border online purchases

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Close to seven in 10 of all consumers made at least one e-commerce purchase outside their home country in 2020.

According to “Global Voices 2021: Cross-Border Shopper Insights” from e-commerce technology/services provider eShopWorld (ESW), younger, digitally native consumers ages 25–34 were the group most likely to have made 10 or more e-commerce purchases outside their home country in the past year, with 33% having done so. This was followed by consumers ages 35–44 (32%) and those ages 18–24 (29%).

The study also found that, overall, 68% of shoppers surveyed across 11 countries made at least one cross-border online purchase in 2020. Younger respondents also showed tendencies toward several other specific cross-border online shopping behaviors. Shoppers in the millennial demographic accounted for nearly half (47%) of respondents who had spent more than $500 on cross-border e-commerce purchases in the past year, followed by Gen Xers (27%) and Gen Zers (15%).

Gen Zers shop from brands’ sites directly, rather than from marketplaces or a mix of brand and marketplace sites, most frequently. Some 29% of this group has shopped cross-border directly from brands, compared to 23% of millennials and 23% of Gen Xers.

Respondents of all ages purchase apparel cross-border most frequently, but Gen Zers and millennials are buying other categories, such as health and beauty and luxury goods, at three times the rate of the oldest group of shoppers surveyed. Clothing (30%), toys (19%), and health and beauty (19%) were the most popular product categories purchased by cross-border shoppers in the 25–34 age group over the past six months, according to the study.

More than half (55%) of non-U.S. respondents ages 18–34 shopped from U.S. sites in the past 12 months, ranking the U.S. as one of the most-shopped countries globally overall.

Some 72% of all respondents used a credit or debit card to complete their cross-border transactions, but younger consumers are more frequently taking advantage of buy now, pay later options, with roughly 10% of respondents ages 18–24 and 11% of those ages 25–34 saying they have used these flexible payments to shop from international merchants.

The survey also reveals consumers said being able to shop a site in their local language (34%) and local currency (34%) and seeing all charges, taxes and duties clearly displayed (33%) were the most important factors contributing to their decision to make a purchase.

ESW fielded responses from more than 22,000 consumers in 11 countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.). Gen Zers are defined as consumers ages 18–24, millennials as ages 25–40, Gen Xers as ages 41–56, baby boomers as ages 57–75, and the silent generation as ages 76–92.