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Think local, shop global

shopping cart on globe

Right now, consumers want to shop the world. Shoppers are purchasing in stores, on PCs and from smartphones and tablets, buying goods locally and from other continents in a few clicks. They want what they want, when they want it, whether it be a purchase from a local store in Omaha or from a boutique in Brussels. And no matter where they are and what device they are using, they want their shopping experience to be seamless.

In this environment, retailers need a clear understanding of the shopping behaviors and influences in each market.

To help our retail customers navigate this complexity, we recently released the findings from the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Global Study. The study showcases the shopping patterns in five unique global markets: United States, Asia, Europe, Mexico and Brazil, and shows the similarities and differences in how consumers behave.

Businesses of all sizes can use the information to help meet customers' expectations by identifying areas of growth and trends in online shopping around the world.

Consumer convenience

There are commonalities across markets. For example, convenience is a driving force. All consumers do what they can to receive free shipping, with American online shoppers willing to wait the longest (5-7 days) to qualify. Online shoppers in Asia and Mexico are the least patient and often willing to pay for next day service.

"Consumers want what they want, when they want it, whether it be a purchase from a local store in Omaha or from a boutique in Brussels."

Of course, smartphones and tablets are changing how consumers communicate, access information and shop. Their use is growing, but shoppers in different regions use them to different degrees and in different ways.

Even those shoppers who purchase in-store may use their smartphones as part of the shopping experience: They want to touch or feel the product they are purchasing, but they use their phones to get store hours, check inventory, or even reserve items.

Regional shopping trends

  • Asia: Online shoppers in Asia lead the world in tech adoption. They are trendy and fast-paced. Smartphone shopping is very common. Online shoppers in Asia are, by far, the most likely to purchase via phone (55%). (Europeans are least likely (26%). Brazil, Mexico and U.S. shoppers are all about the same (40% on average). By 2019, it is expected that more than 50% of all online purchases will be via smartphone.
  • Brazil. Social Influences are huge in Brazil. 64% of Brazilian online shoppers cited the influence of social media in their purchases, similar to Mexico (77%). European and American shoppers are less influenced with only 35% citing social media as an influence.
  • Europe. Online shoppers are the least likely to use their smartphone to make purchases and conduct online activities. They are the least likely to use social media, and their online shopping the least influenced by it. They do like fast deliveries.
  • Mexico. Shoppers purchase more items in store than they do online, yet they are heavy users of social media and smartphones. Online shoppers here also make the least percentage of online retail returns compared to all other markets.
  • United States. American online shoppers are the most satisfied with their online shopping experience. They make a greater percentage of purchases on tablets and compared to other markets, free shipping continues to drive their purchasing decisions.

Linking retailers to consumers

Retailers need to think about how to enter the market and position their products and services depending on the consumer behavior in the region they are targeting. To help navigate this global complexity, UPS i-parcel links retailers in the U.S. and U.K. - two of the largest e-commerce markets - to consumers around the world. This helps local online consumers shop and purchase in their own language, use local currency and automatically add customs duties and taxes into the final cost.

"Globalization means consumer needs can be fulfilled from everywhere no matter how unique they may be."

Globalization means consumer needs can be fulfilled from everywhere no matter how unique they may be. The opportunity to capitalize is now. The technology and infrastructural support exists.

Looking to the future

The future of the store will most certainly involve mobile. Think line-busting checkout via handheld devices. Wi-Fi access storewide and tablet-based selling may be the new standard in a few years. Whatever the new normal will be, retailers that recognize the differences among markets and aim to hit every touch point are best positioned to win.

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Longitudes explores and navigates the trends reshaping the global economy and the way we’ll live in the world of tomorrow: logistics, technology, e-commerce, trade and sustainability. Which path will you take?

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