Pitney Bowes survey forecasts another boom in e-commerce for UK retailers

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By 2025, global cross-border sales are expected to reach US$1.6tn, predominately from UK retailers. Furthermore, 41% of consumers expect to shop online more this holiday season.

Global technology company Pitney Bowes has released results from its latest Boxpoll consumer survey, highlighting the significant impact that the Delta variant is expected to have on consumer shopping behaviors during this year’s peak shopping season. With the extended period of US buyers working from home, it is expected that retail brands will experience greater adoption of online shopping. After consulting 1,000 shoppers around the world, the results revealed that 18% of shoppers are in China, 12% are in the US, 10% are in South Korea and 10% are in Australia. The data also revealed continued demand for UK online retailers among overseas shoppers. Demand is highest among buyers in the US and China, with more than one in 10 US consumers buying from UK retailers at least once a month.

To determine how consumers are responding to the changes in Covid-19 restrictions, Pitney Bowes examined whether and how much consumers were reverting to being cautious and wary about shopping amid possible health risks. The survey found that 41% of consumers expect to be shopping more online this holiday season compared with their current shopping habits.

It also found that one in three consumers will start shopping more online, representing a 19% increase from May. Finally, the survey found that one in four consumers will start shopping less in person (representing a 16% increase from May).

Of those who buy from UK online retailers, buyers in China say that 42% of all online purchases they plan to make once the pandemic is over will be with UK retailers. Furthermore, those in France and South Korea say one in four of their post-pandemic purchases will be with a UK-based retailer.

However, the poll reveals that there are still some barriers to overcome if UK-based retailers are to capitalize on the opportunity and minimize shopping cart abandonment. US shoppers were asked for the main reasons they abandon their purchase when shopping online with UK brands. The results revealed that 69% of buyers abandon their cart ‘frequently’ or ‘occasionally’ if shipping costs are too high; 62% do so if delivery time is too long; 44% do so because the duties and taxes aren’t calculated or seem inaccurate; 46% do so because ‘the site did not clearly explain whether the retailer shipped to my country’; 44% do so because they do not want to risk paying for import duties at package pick-up.

In the European market, the survey revealed that customers bought from the UK less often, with 8% of shoppers in Germany and 6% in France shopping from UK brands online approximately once a month. Boxpoll asked consumers whether they were purchasing less as a direct impact of Brexit. Twenty-eight percent of German shoppers and 24% of French shoppers agreed they were buying less for that reason. The poll also found that consumers who shop online with UK retailers will increase this behavior after the threat of the pandemic has decreased.

Interestingly, consumer sentiment also varies across generations. In regard to the Delta variant, millennials are the most cautious, with nearly one in three saying they will shop less in person (28%) and nearly half saying they will shop more online (46%) because of the Delta variant. That is a near 20% increase since May for both pieces of data and the highest result of any age group. The data also uncovered that clothing is the most popular for Generation Z buyers in the US, followed by millennials’ propensity to buy jewelry, toys and gifts.

Gregg Zegras, president of global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes, said, “As we enter this year’s peak season amid the surge of the Delta variant, this industry should expect a peak like 2020. To avoid disappointing customers, retailers should schedule promotions earlier to pull forward demand and lower risk by diversifying their carrier mix.”

Georges Berzgal, senior vice president of global e-commerce, added, “After the turbulence of the past two years, this data should bring hope to UK retailers. Demand for British brands is high among overseas buyers, particularly in the US, but retailers cannot underestimate the importance of a transparent, cost-effective cross-border shipping and returns strategy. They can’t afford to lose almost 70% of their buyers at checkout.”

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As the latest addition to the UKi Media & Events team, Elizabeth brings research skills from her English degree to her keen interest in the meteorological and transportation industries. Having taken the lead in student and startup publications, she has gained experience in editing online and print titles on a wide variety of topics. In her current role as Editorial Assistant, Elizabeth will create new and topical content on the pioneering technologies in transportation, logistics and meteorology.

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