Every year, the percentage of e-commerce sales relative to overall retail sales is growing, which presents some great opportunities — particularly when it comes to selling globally.
To gain some insight on this topic, Bronto commissioned a research report, “Beyond Borders: Identifying Global Sales in a Shrinking E-Commerce World." The consumer study, conducted by Ipsos Research in the U.S. and Australia, and Censuswide in the U.K., sought to uncover the opportunities, challenges and trends associated with global commerce.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
Consumer Age Isn't the Defining Metric for Cross-Border Buying
In each of the three regions researched, different age groups dominated the purchases from outside of their home country. In the U.S., young adults (25-34) made up the largest percentage at 27 percent, while in the U.K. and Australia, that demographic sat at just 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively. In the U.K. and Australia, those 55 and up were tops with 25 percent and 32 percent reach. The U.K. also saw 22 percent of those in the 18-24 demographic making purchases, while Australia had just 9 percent in the same category.
The main takeaway is that age isn't the defining factor that determines who will most likely purchase outside of their home country. What works in the United States won’t necessarily be as effective in the U.K. and Australia.
Loyalty to the Home Country is a Hurdle for Cross-Border Retailers
In both the U.K. and U.S., one in five consumers isn't ready to purchase outside their borders. (It’s just 7 percent for Aussies.) In all three countries, this group tends to be female (63 percent in the U.S., 60 percent in Australia, and 54 percent in the U.K.). The 55 and up age group represents nearly half (47 percent) of British loyalists, while that number increases to almost two-thirds in the U.S. and Australia (65 percent and 64 percent, respectively). What does this mean? Be sure to consider the target audience for what you’re selling before setting your sights on loyalists.
Opportunities for Country-Specific Sales Are Abundant in All 3 Regions
Both the U.K. (60 percent) and Australia (54 percent) purchase the most from the U.S., while Australia also purchases heavily from the U.K. (39 percent). U.S. consumers are more varied in their purchasing patterns, with the U.K. at 27 percent, Canada at 20 percent, Japan at 19 percent, Germany at 10 percent and Australia at 6 percent. Additionally, a majority of cross-border purchasers from the U.S. and Australia (56 percent for both) have purchased from an online retailer in China, and 44 percent of U.K. consumers that buy cross-border have also purchased from China. If selling to a consumer on the other side of the world seems complicated, consider neighboring countries. In the U.S., 72 percent of cross-border consumers have bought from Canada, and 59 percent of U.K. consumers have bought from neighboring France.
Motivations and Barriers for Purchase Are the Same, Regardless of Region
The top reasons for buying from another country in all three regions are better prices and unique merchandise. Other factors include safe payment and the quality of the product. Conversely, the primary barrier for purchase in all three regions is shipping costs. In Australia, 75 percent of consumers list this as a concern, as do 67 percent of Americans and 62 percent of consumers in the U.K. The next highest concerns are security, distrust of online payment methods and a lengthy delivery time.
The Australian market is a sales gold mine. Currently, more than 70 percent of consumers in Australia are shopping outside of the country. When compared to the U.S. (42 percent) and U.K. (44 percent), it’s easy to see that there's huge opportunity for businesses to improve their global reach by expanding their marketing “down under.” On the flip side, Australian companies might want to look at what their consumers are interested in and find a way to sell it to them from their digital marketplaces.
Understanding the Overseas Market
Selling overseas requires thoughtful planning. TackleDirect CEO Patrick Gill has successfully sold globally for many years, and while the U.S. dollar’s strength has put a bit of a damper on global sales, there are still plenty of tactics to try. The key is knowing how to market to international consumers.
For instance, don’t blast your global list with an Independence Day special, as July 4 is obviously only celebrated in the U.S. As a fishing-specific retailer, Gill needs to understand the fishing seasons as they happen around the world. Gill’s No. 1 non-U.S. market is Australia.
“That’s Southern Hemisphere," notes Gill. "Our summer is their winter, and vice versa. So we need to be smart about the promotions we’re putting in front of them and segment that country.”
There are many valuable lessons to be learned when considering a global approach. With an ever-shifting commerce landscape, it can often be difficult to determine next steps. Using these key takeaways can go a long way toward improving the measurable success of your marketing endeavors and providing the boost you need to grow your business internationally.
Susan Wall is the vice president of marketing at Bronto Software, a cloud-based marketing automation software provider.