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UK shoppers most likely to buy books online, Chinese to buy household goods, and Brazilians to buy computer equipment: report

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UK consumers are among the most frequent online shoppers in the world – but they are also very likely to be put off from buying by shipping costs and taxes, product descriptions in a foreign language, or when prices are not shown in sterling, a new study has found.

Meanwhile, German shoppers shop online most frequently, Brazilians are most likely, from the countries surveyed, to buy computer equipment and consumer electronics, and the Chinese most likely to buy clothes, footwear and household goods over the internet.

The Time to Get Serious about Cross-Border E-commerce study from Pitney Bowes, carried out in order to help retailers expand their online business overseas, questioned 1,000 consumers in each of 10 countries: the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Researchers found that 98% of the UK shoppers questioned said they had ever bought online. Some 65% had done so in the last 30 days, a rate second only to the 66% of Germans who had done so and level with Japanese internet purchasers. Across the survey, books, films and music were the items most bought online, and 77% of UK shoppers had bought from these categories – the highest rate in the survey.

But while UK shoppers are keen internet shoppers, 79% complain about high shipping costs, second only to US shoppers (83%), and just ahead of the Japanese, at 78%. Other bugbears include any need to pay extra duty and taxes at the time of delivery (65% of UK shoppers objected), product descriptions being in a foreign language (46% UK shopper objected), merchants not accepting their credit card (41%) and pricing not in sterling (44%).

The survey also singled out the top priorities for online shoppers in each country profiled. Australian buyers rated as most important shipping costs, duties and taxes, at 44%, followed by the selection of products (41%). In Brazil, where customers were most likely to buy consumer electronics and computer equipment (59%), some 56% rated the ease of the online checkout and 25% the ability to track their order as factors in deciding to buy.

Canadians’ top priorities were shipping costs and taxes (48%) and selection of products (32%) while Chinese consumers, where 57% would buy household goods online, 58% clothes and 53% footwear, rated product selection (51%) and ease of checkout (47%.

In France the ability to track the order was a priority for 37% and product choice for 31%, while Germans rated the ease of online checkout (59% and product choice (47%). Some 64% of Japanese buyers said shipping costs and duties were important, and 48% focused on product selection, while in the South Korea the ease and speed of checkout was a priority for 59%, followed by the product selection (50%).

UK consumers said the selection of products was most important (48%), while 35% rated shipping costs and duties as an important factor in making a purchase decision. Finally, 46% of US consumers focused on shipping costs and duties, and 43% on product selection.

Patrick Jelly, of Pitney Bowes, said: 

“To be successful, retailers need to ensure they can offer a simple and seamless online shopping experience and have a clear understanding of consumers’ purchasing, shipping and communications preferences in each market.”

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