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International online sales rose 82% year-on-year in 2020

Tom Bottomley
20 January 2021

International online sales transacted through cross-border e-commerce technology and services provider eShopWorld (ESW) rose by 82% year-on-year across 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strong pre-pandemic growth of cross-border sales slowed in March, as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated, creating uncertainty that undermined consumer confidence.

However, that initial ebb was short-lived as sales rapidly went on the rebound from April, 2020, with growth in excess of 100%.

Consumer digital demands soared - driven by varying world-wide lockdown orders and the rapid acceleration of the digital transformation of retailers adapting to demand on a global scale.

As retailers found sources of growth in multiple international markets, sales peaked at an impressive +141% in July, 2020.

The top five highest increases in international sales came from the Philippines – up 258%, Morocco +215%, Chile +211%, Puerto Rico +203% and Egypt +196%.

The impetus behind the record figures is revealed in research of more than 22,000 consumers across 11 countries, commissioned by ESW, which found that more than half (52%) of respondents said they had made six or more cross-border purchases in the past year.

The top reasons cited for purchasing internationally were lower cost – including duties, taxes and shipping, given by 36% of consumers, and 35% cited availability of products that couldn’t be found in the shopper’s own region.

Tommy Kelly, CEO of ESW, commented: “2020 saw historic growth in year-on-year cross-border ecommerce sales and reinforced the role of international e-commerce as the jewel in retail’s crown, enabling businesses to meet customer demand at its point of origin while mitigating against fluctuations in their local market.

“Both our sales figures and research show that to succeed retailers must have a deep understanding of global markets that allow them to offer a localised, customer-centric and cost competitive shopping experience if they wish to maintain both the loyalty of existing customers and attract new ones.”

“For those retailers and brands that have not already done so, prioritising investment into the development of a best-in-class global e-commerce offering is critical to allow them to harness fluctuating, and profitable, global consumer demand.”

The ESW data shows the extent of the trading opportunity available to globally optimised brands and retailers.

Brands partnering with ESW can enter new international markets in as few as six weeks, up to six times faster than if they attempted to do so on their own – all while engaging directly with customers and retaining ownership of all the data collected during the shopping process.

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