Online shoppers in the US do not just spend dollars at home

Last year we wrote a couple of reports that highlighted cross-border online shoppers in Europe, where some 29% of online shoppers had purchased from another country. What’s interesting, however, is that 26% of online shoppers in the US had also made a cross-border purchase. We looked at this dynamic in our recently published report on US Cross-Border Online Shoppers.

A few takeaways from the report:

Cross-border shopping peaks among the young. One-third of US online shoppers ages 18-24 have purchased cross-border as compared to just 15% of those ages 65 and older.

No single category dominates cross-border online shopping.  Books, CDs and DVDs top the list, suggesting that shoppers may be looking for foreign media unavailable in the US, however, other categories such as clothing and accessories were not far behind.

Prices are a slightly bigger driver of cross-border purchases than selection. When asked why they’d purchased from a non-US website, the number one response was that prices were lower on the foreign retailer's website.

Awareness remains the largest challenge for foreign online retailers. US online consumers that are not purchasing from websites outside the country had several reasons for not purchasing cross-border, but the top reason was a lack of familiarity with any non-US retailers. There’s a tendency to believe that American users stay close to home when it comes to online shopping, and indeed many do claim they are meeting all of their needs on US websites. However, there is a trend toward global buying that is poised to continue. Not only are overall online buyers becoming increasingly global in their outlook, but as the US heads toward matching the 19th century high of 15% of the population being foreign born, familiarity with non-US stores is only likely to increase.