UPS
Retail

Double-digit global e-commerce growth opens new markets

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UPS study shows how retailers can capitalize on this boom.

There has been a lot of media buzz about how a single holiday in China, Singles Day (when young people in China celebrate or lament being single), logged over $9 billion in sales, more than double the combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday U.S. sales. Overall global e-commerce growth is estimated at 16 percent in 2015, reaching $1.7 trillion, compared with $1.47 trillion in 2014, according to emarketer.com. The predicted spike is expected to come from growth in emerging markets, mobile commerce and new international markets previously unreachable.

Retailers must optimize their mobile, online and in-store shopping experience and bridge the three for a seamless customer experience. 

Opportunities for U.S. retailers abound. For example, the latest UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ Global Study, conducted by comScore, found that shoppers worldwide said one in four of their purchases came from retailers outside their own country – and about half of those purchases came from U.S.-based retailers. What's more, over half of U.S. shoppers report buying online from internationally based retailers.

Retailers can ACT on:

  • Alternative options.
  • Convenience and capabilities.
  • Transferable experiences between site and store.

A = Alternative options: The global online shopper is increasingly interested in alternative options and choices, ranging from new delivery options to new payment options.

Specifically, alternative delivery options matter. Consumers worldwide still prefer home delivery of online orders (62 percent), but alternative delivery choices are important – and vary by region. For example, 38 percent of European buyers prefer that items be left with a neighbor if the buyer is not home, while in Mexico, 42 percent of shoppers prefer items be shipped to a carrier's location.

C = Convenience and capabilities: For today's global consumer, convenience takes several forms. In addition to returns preferences and free and flexible delivery options, constant technological advances have led to a new range of in-store shopping conveniences and capabilities, which will play a more significant role in the future shopping experience. Specifically, convenience is essential. As you might expect, across all regions, free shipping ranks at the top in terms of online shopping experiences, and the majority of all consumers will take action to qualify for it, such as adding to their shopping cart. A best practice is to prompt shoppers by showing the incremental spend needed to meet the free shipping threshold. Convenience takes a variety of forms. For example, the most preferred delivery convenience is advance e-mail or text alerts so buyers know when their package will arrive.

T = Transferable experience between site and store: Consumers want a consistent and positive online shopping experience across all channels, and the store remains important. Retailers must optimize their mobile, online and in-store shopping experience and bridge the three for a seamless customer experience. Specifically:

  • The "flex-shopping" trend cuts across borders. Shoppers worldwide switch channels and devices based on convenience when researching, evaluating and purchasing products and expect to be able to do so seamlessly.
  • Shoppers start with a search engine or shopping website. To find products of interest, one in four consumers in Asia, Europe, Brazil and Mexico start with a search engine. For researching online and buying, desktops and laptops are still preferred, except in Mexico, where the preference to purchase shifts to in-store. About 13 percent of consumers prefer to make purchases via tablet or smartphone.
  • Half of online shoppers use social media to make purchase decisions. Many shoppers say they are influenced by social networks, with the heaviest in Brazil (84 percent) and Mexico (77 percent). The dominant network in all regions except Asia is Facebook. In Asia, local sites like Kalkotalk, Sina Webo and WeChat have more influence.

There are key regional differences to note. Consumers worldwide differ significantly in terms of online shopping and expectations. For example, Brazilian online shoppers are ahead of the curve on social media, loyalty programs, alternate delivery options and use of technology in-store. Shoppers in Asia Pacific are the heaviest participants in mobile and most likely to choose same-day or next-day expedited shipping options.

Clearly the path to purchase for online shoppers worldwide is increasingly complex and multichannel. Choice continues to be an essential ingredient as consumers navigate among channels and devices, with mobile becoming indispensable for everything from researching prepurchase to checking on delivery status.

Get your own copy of the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Global Study to see just how to cash in on global customers.

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