Cost savings main driver of international online buying behaviour

June 2020


Whistl, the leading delivery management company in the UK, has undertaken a survey to understand the international online purchasing behaviour of consumers in key e-commerce markets.

The survey took place in the UK, Republic of Ireland, France, Germany, Australia and the USA.  It found that making cost savings was the biggest driver for consumers to purchase online abroad (64%); followed by getting products not available locally (60%); then getting access to unique products (51%); as well as getting low/free shipping (39%).

On a country-specific basis, Ireland and Australia have the highest proportions of online purchasers from abroad of all the countries surveyed and, relative to the other countries, both have significantly higher proportions who mention cost savings and low shipping.

The research found some minor differences based on gender, with slightly more men mentioning the exchange rate, cost savings and availability of new technology as the reasons for making online purchases abroad and slightly more females saying product access, shipping and fashion trends motivate their international shopping behaviour.

When looking at drivers of international behaviour by age, older shoppers are less bothered by cost savings compared to their younger counterparts, who mention product quality, product availability and access to technology more so than older purchasers.  

When looking at purchases by age, older shoppers are less bothered by cost savings and younger shoppers mention product quality, product access, access to technology as their drivers of international behaviour.

For retailers, understanding why people do not make international online purchases is equally as important when building their market share. Across all countries the top concerns of buying online from abroad were delivery times (67%); risk of fraud/low quality (52%); cost and complexity of returns (46%); followed by delivery costs (36%).

Long delivery time concerns are highest in UK and Australia and lowest in Ireland (where the risk of fraud is also perceived as low but this could be due to the fact that a large proportion of Ireland’s international purchases come from the UK). 

In France, purchasers are less concerned with delivery costs and lack of trust compared with other countries. Germans are more concerned than other countries with fraud risk, returns, and delivery costs. 

The USA has the highest lack of trust rating among the countries surveyed, with 40% citing distrust with overseas sellers as negative when making international online purchases.

When analysed by gender, women see the risk of fraud as a significantly higher disadvantage compared to men.

Influence of buying platforms

The research looked at the influence of buying platforms on international online purchasing behaviour. In the UK and Ireland shoppers using Amazon care less which country the product is coming from when compared to countries such as France.

When it comes to eBay, online shoppers in the US and UK are significantly more wary about buying from abroad using this platform in contrast to shoppers in Australia and Ireland who are more relaxed.

Melanie Darvall, Director Marketing & Communications, Whistl, said: “When trading internationally online you have to take a country by country approach and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly.  Our research shows that even though there are some common themes across all markets, there are some significant differences that need to be addressed to maximise the potential in specific countries.  

“Working with a partner who understands how to maximise the opportunities abroad, particularly for SME etailers, is invaluable. We have produced a guide to provide insight into the key international online markets and the drivers of behaviour of consumers in these markets.

For a copy of the guide – CLICK HERE

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