Global survey finds Millennials and Gen-X driving cross-border e-commerce boom

68% of global consumers shopped cross-border in 2020 with those under 34 the most ardent international e-commerce consumers

Younger and digitally native consumers were the group most likely to have made more than 10 e-commerce purchases outside of their home country in the last year, according to a new global survey from eShopWorld, at 33%. This group is followed by consumers aged 35-44 (32%) and then those aged 18-24 (29%).

Of the young shoppers, millennials are the highest spenders, accounting for 47% of the respondents who had spent more than $500 on cross-border purchases in the past year. This was far higher than the following groups, with Gen X at 27% and Gen Z at 15%. Millennial expenditure was being spent on clothing (30%), toys (19%) and health and beauty (19%).

Gen Zers are the group most likely to buy direct from brands, rather than from marketplaces or a mix of brand and marketplace sites. Twenty-nine percent of this group has shopped cross-border directly from brands, versus 23% of millennials and 23% of Gen X. These are from a variety of categories, though clothing was the top category overall, with Gen Z and Millennials also purchasing health and beauty and luxury goods. This was at three times the rate of the oldest group of shoppers surveyed.

The majority of the shopping was done with US brands, with some 55% of non-US consumers aged 18-34 shopping form US sites in the last year. This could be, in part, due to consumers stating that being able to shop a site in their local language (34%) or local currency (34%) was the most important factor contributing to their decision to make a purchase. This was followed by seeing all charges, taxes and duties clearly displayed (33%).

Flexible payment options are gaining traction, though paying via credit or debit card remains popular, with 72% of all respondents using a credit or debit card to complete their cross-border transactions. 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.

“Younger consumers have always been more comfortable shopping online, but our survey data show that they are now increasingly embracing international e-commerce as more retailers and brands eliminate friction by offering conveniences such as click and collect, return to store and promised delivery date,” said Tommy Kelly, CEO of ESW. “People are still restricted in their ability to travel and shop in person around the world, and cross-border e-commerce continues to be an attractive alternative for these shoppers. Our study also indicates that consumers are purchasing a variety of product categories from foreign brands, so companies that can provide a savvy, localized shopping experience have a significant opportunity to capture this market that grew 82% last year and shows no signs of slowing down.”

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