When it comes to online shopping, formerly unreachable global markets are now as close as a consumer's desktop – or even the smartphone between their thumbs.
Billions of consumers worldwide have ready access to the internet through computers, tablets and mobile devices. According to a recent Accenture and AliResearch report, the number of cross-border online buyers alone will more than triple by 2020, reaching 943 million consumers, compared with 309 million in 2014. In the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ study, one in four U.S. shoppers say they've made an international purchase in the past year.
Here's further evidence: 67 percent of Canadian web shoppers made purchases across borders in 2015, according to eMarketer research. And the U.S. Department of Commerce reports that 26.2 million online shoppers in China (7 percent of the total 375 million Chinese online shoppers) bought cross-border products. E-commerce is relatively new in China.
"Every day, online shopping is bringing retailers to the doorstep of millions of consumers worldwide," says Randy Strang, UPS vice president of Global B2C Operations. While Strang believes the opportunity is there, many retailers, both large and small, remain reluctant to make the move.
"Selling to consumers globally has challenges that make many web merchants hesitate," Strang says. "It's important to understand the ins and outs, and get comfortable with the process."
In a recently released special report, "E-commerce without borders," UPS i-parcel™ partnered with Internet Retailer to give retailers a detailed look at the scope of international e-commerce along with case studies of successful web merchants. Here are the key takeaways:
Selling internationally has its own unique set of complications, says Strang, including marketing, social media and the logistics of delivery, payment and customer service. That may be one reason why 27 percent of the top 500 web merchants in North America use a global e-commerce solution like UPS i-parcel to grow direct-to-consumer, cross-border sales, according to 2015 data from top500Guide.com.
UPS i-parcel technology is a key enabler for customers profiled in the report. UPS i-parcel is a scalable, cost-effective and virtually turnkey solution for retailers who want to reach global shoppers in more than 100 countries and 70 languages. With a few lines of code, e-commerce merchants can optimize their website with a local look and feel, manage payment collection and customs compliance – and satisfy customers no matter where they are in the world.
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