Although online retail is seeing an uplift during the coronavirus crisis, the pandemic is likely to erode some enthusiasm among consumers for buying products from abroad, a new study shows.
That could be a problem for many online fashion retail giants that are expanding their international businesses, as well as for smaller companies looking to make up for lost sales at home through cross-border commerce.
Based on answers to a range of questions, delivery specialist Whistl said international online purchases will fall by 24% due to Covid-19, following a survey of key markets. US (29%) and Australian (25%) e-shoppers are most likely to buy less from all other countries.
It spoke to 200 consumers each in the UK, US, France, Germany, Ireland and Australia and asked them about the impact of the pandemic on their cross-border e-purchases. Almost a quarter will decrease buying online from international retailers in next 12 months, but 61% will maintain their pre-Covid buying patterns and 15% are even likely to increase cross-border buying.
The numbers making such purchases from international sites will fall by 34% in the US, 28% in Australia, 24% in both Germany and the UK, 21% in France and 18% in the Republic of Ireland.
That said, the UK at 45% and Ireland and France at 42% each are the “most resilient countries” and are much less likely to reduce their spend from all other countries because of the coronavirus. Those figures relate to what’s going on in consumers’ minds at the moment with some thinking they’re less likely to make cross-border purchases, some unsure and some enthusiastic about buying from abroad.
When given the statement “due to the coronavirus crisis, I am less likely to buy products from all other countries”, the figures vary widely across different nationalities. Americans are most likely to agree with the statement (28%) while 37% are unclear and 35% disagree.
In both Germany and Australia, a larger number are unsure, but more people expect to continue buying from abroad than those saying they won’t.
It’s also interesting that so far, as the crisis is still at a peak in many markets, a sizeable percentage of consumers have already stopped buying from abroad, ranging from 12% in Ireland up to 29% in the US. Germany and Ireland are most open to current cross-border commerce with 53% of consumers still purchasing. That's followed closely by 52% in France then 47% in the UK, 46% in Australia and 43% in the US.
Melanie Darvall, Director Marketing & Communications at Whistl, said: “Our snapshot of consumer attitudes to international online shopping as a result of Covid-19 highlights some interesting trends for e-tailers around the world. It shows, for example, that if you are exporting to the US, it will be harder to make a sale and a greater effort is needed to build trust and confidence with this consumer than, say, to one in Germany”.