E-commerce is taking over the retail world, UPS says

Today UPS published its annual “Global Pulse of the Online Shopper” study that shows consumer behavior in the realm of e-commerce is shifting. The study, which surveyed consumers from the United States, Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Brazil, suggested that consumers from all over the world are purchasing from sellers outside of their residing countries more often, and are doing so increasingly by way of smartphone.

The study uncovered some regional differences about how often e-commerce consumers make returns, which occurs at the highest rate in the U.S. at 44 percent, and lowest in Mexico at 22 percent.

Almost all of the participants surveyed reported shopping at the kind of e-commerce websites that UPS refers to as “marketplaces” – the defining feature being that they serve as host to various merchants – à la Amazon and JD.com. Ninety-nine percent of shoppers from Mexico, 98 percent in Asia and 96 percent in the European and Canadian markets made purchases from marketplace-style websites.

As retailers continue to expand their strategies to encompass an international consumer base, their customers now have various outlets with potentially differing price-points to consider for the purchase a certain product, the study found. While less than half of American shoppers (47 percent), said they made international purchases, global competition for customers is increasing. For instance, 83 percent of Canadian shoppers made purchases from international retailers, followed by 81 percent of Brazilian shoppers and 78 percent of Mexican respondents.

This is great news for consumers, but not-so-great news for retailers trying to compete in the international marketplace. Chief commercial officer for UPS, Alan Gershenhorn, addressed this phenomenon, saying that “to stand out, smart companies must recognize that, with competition now coming from around the world, consumers want different ways to make purchases, more convenient ways to receive them and innovative experiences from start to finish.”

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