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Half of online shoppers looking outside the UK as it’s cheaper, research finds


Almost half (48%) of UK consumers shop outside their domestic market because it is cheaper than shopping locally, a survey has revealed.

The study commissioned by cross-border ecommerce solutions provider Global-e, and carried out by Censuswide, asked 9,000 global consumers across nine markets their opinions on international shopping.

It found that the UK (25%) is the third most popular market for global consumers to make an international purchase from, behind the US (46%) and China (42%). While, among UK shoppers – China (57%) and the US (47%) are the most popular markets for cross-border shopping, followed by Germany (11%), Spain (10%) and France (9%).

Affordability was the top reason driving UK shoppers to look internationally, slightly higher than the global average (47%). For UK respondents, this is closely followed by the brand having a wide variety of products (33%) and offering low shipping costs (28%). In contrast, expensive shipping (59%) and a lengthy or costly delivery time (43%) are the top reasons for UK consumers to abandon a cart when shopping internationally.

Shoppers prefer D2C and are influenced by social media
Global-e added retailers are looking to maximise their profits and can expect consumers to look online for the best deals. The survey revealed that 62% of British respondents prefer to shop directly from the brands website, compared to only 33% of respondents preferring to shop on a marketplace. Those aged between 25-34 year-olds are the most likely to purchase from a brand directly (71%) followed by those aged 16-24 (66%).

Social channels also played a large role in driving international sales with 46% of UK consumers purchasing from an international brand after coming across it on social media. Social is more prominent in driving cross-border sales than both online search (42%) and online marketplaces (34%). Of those UK consumers that have gone on to purchase due to the influence of social media, Instagram (58%) is the most popular followed by Facebook/Meta (42%) and TikTok (32%).

Furthermore, those aged between 16-24 cite TikTok (69%) as the most popular platform to discover brands on, with Instagram (55%) coming in second. Older platforms like Instagram and Facebook come out on top for the older age groups, 27% of 35-44 year olds have made a purchase because they engaged with the brand on TikTok, showing it isn’t only the youngest demographic that brands can reach on the platform.

Clothes, Shoes & Accessories (74%) is the most popular category for UK shoppers when making a purchase online internationally. This is followed by Health & Beauty (29%) and Jewellery & Watches (23%). Globally, Clothes, Shoes & Accessories (61%) are by far the most popular cross-border ecommerce category, followed by Health & Beauty (30%) and Consumer Electronics & Technology (30%).

Nir Debbi, co-founder and president at Global-e, said: “Amidst the cost of living crisis, it is unsurprising that many consumers around the world are looking for affordable alternatives online, and looking to international markets to make some of these purchases. This is predominantly happening directly from a brand’s website, demonstrating the crucial need for brands to not just streamline domestic platforms but ensure that their international direct-to-consumer offering is tailored and localised to individual markets so consumers are able to shop with ease no matter where they are in the world.

“Moreover, British retailers can use these insights to level the playing field, by first localising international direct-to-consumer channels then investing in the right channels, such as via key social media platforms, with to drive traffic and ultimately revenue growth.”

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