E-commerce is a booming sector in Asia Pacific, which saw the largest year-over-year incremental cross-border purchases, with India (18%), China (12%) and South Korea (8%) contributing most, according to the 2017 Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce study that is based on survey results of 1,200 retailers from eight countries including India and 12,000 consumers from 12 global markets. The study also noted that India is the only country that has interest in quick delivery for a cost, and are split across free longer delivery and quicker shorter deliveries for a fee.
Retailers must have learnt from their past mistakes and is trying to provide the richest experience to the consumers. For instance, for many online shoppers, 2016 was a holiday to forget nearly half (47%) of online shoppers globally reported frustration with everything from shipping, to returns, to lost products and miscalculated duties and taxes during the 2016 holiday shopping season. Shoppers in Asia Pacific – particularly India (73%), Hong Kong (69%) China (64%) and South Korea (58%) – reported the most challenges. In the US, 36% of online shoppers experienced problems, up 5% from the previous year.
“As consumers become more experienced with online shopping, they’re shifting more of their holiday spend online and expecting better and better service from retailers, said Lila Snyder, President, Global Ecommerce and Presort Services, Pitney Bowes. “Online shoppers have an entire global marketplace at their fingertips. They expect that there is always a way to get the product they want, shipped where they want, when they want it. This creates both opportunities and challenges for retailers.”
She continued, “With even more purchases expected to be online this year, retailers need to double-down on the elements of the consumer experience that matter most – delivery, returns, tracking and world-class customer care.”
Online shoppers have matured
Online shopping is ubiquitous in major global markets, but is showing signs of plateauing, with 94% of consumers having made a domestic online purchase – flat year-over-year, finds the study. Consumers are shopping online more frequently. More than one-third of global consumers make online purchases at least once per week and 70% of online shoppers have made a cross-border purchase.
The study shows that online shoppers are exercising a wider range of options when it comes to shipping, collecting, or returning their items. “Click-and-collect” – purchasing online and picking up in store – is now common practice for 40% of global online shoppers, up from 28% the previous year. In the US alone, this option is exercised by 46% of online shoppers versus 27% in the previous year. And the practice is most common in Hong Kong where 69% “click-and-collect.”
Consumers prefer free shipping with longer delivery times (75%) over paying for expedited parcel shipments (25%).
The India e-commerce boom
Online shoppers in India increasingly prefer online marketplaces over retailer websites, according to the study, which noted that over two-thirds or 67% of online shoppers turn to marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Flipkart, Rakuten, Tmall and JD.com to search for products. This trend is most prevalent in Germany, India and China. Product assortment, better deals and easy checkout are the top three reasons for online marketplace purchases.
Retailers are beginning to recognize the growth opportunity in global ecommerce. Business plans reveal a tipping point may be on the horizon, with 62% of retailers have a cross-border ecommerce business today. And the vast majority of retailers who don’t offer cross-border, plan to in the next 12 months. If these retailers execute against their stated business plans, 93% will offer cross-border shopping by this time next year – that equates to a 50% increase in cross-border retailers in just one year.
The report said that credit cards (like Visa and MasterCard) and e-wallets (like PayPal and AliPay) have been locked in a battle for payment option supremacy for several years. When this survey asked consumers what type of payment option they prefer when making a purchase outside of their home country, 41% chose e-wallets and 39% chose credit cards – the exact inverse of the results from the previous year. Preferred payment options vary by market.
India is the only country equally uses credit cards, e-wallets, and debit cards/ bank transfers. “It is important that cross-border retailers focus on the consumers they are trying to reach, not necessarily the consumers they are most used to when developing their strategies around payment options and just about any aspect of their global ecommerce solutions,” said Snyder.