Cross-border deliveries: The key trends

21 March, 2017

Woman using a laptop.

With the rise in cross-border e-commerce comes an increase in cross-border deliveries. From logistics to trade agreements, there are many factors that affect cross-border deliveries, which the IPC’s latest cross-border e-commerce shopper survey explores.

First of all, let’s take a look at what items are being purchased across borders. Fashion remains the top product category, with 33% of orders relating to clothing and footwear. Other top categories include consumer electronics (21%), books, music, and media (14%), and health and beauty (13%). Fashion is the most common category in nearly every country, with younger consumers more inclined to buy clothes online.

This is reflected in the weight – and cost – of parcels delivered cross-border. A notable 66% of parcels weigh 1kg or less, with Finnish and Chinese consumers buying particularly heavy parcels. However, as a general rule, only 4% of parcels weigh more than 5kg. More than a third (36%) of cross-border purchases cost less than €25 – although there is a wider distribution of cost compared to weight. 18% of orders are high-value (€100 or more), which are most common in Luxembourg and Switzerland, two countries with a particularly high level of disposable income.

Good news for shoppers: 59% of consumers received free shipping – primarily due to a retailer offer (38%), followed by product value, promotion, and loyalty programmes. The survey emphasises one important fact: ‘consumer expectations are driven by consumer experience – if a consumer is loyal to a retailer that regularly offers free shipping, then they are going to expect this from retailers in the future’.

So who’s delivering these parcels? 72% of cross-border deliveries are by post, with just 16% by other carriers. Interestingly, there are big differences between countries: 89% of deliveries in Australia are by post, but this is the case for just 41% in Italy – this difference is due to a high level of competition between carriers.

The survey also stresses the importance of good tracking and returns experiences: where parcel tracking was available, 84% of respondents used it. However, just 69% of consumers were offered a tracking tool, with UK, Norwegian, and Australian consumers missing out in particular (almost half of buyers in these countries weren’t offered tracking).

Just 6% of consumers returned their most recent cross-border parcel, but it’s clear to see how differences between retailers’ returns policies may affect return rates. Returns were highest in countries such as Luxembourg (25%) and Finland (22%), while just 1% of Icelandic cross-border shoppers return their parcels. 94% of these returns are carried out by the local postal operator.

When it comes to the overall shopping experience, 93% of consumers were satisfied, compared to 87% for the delivery experience – a small but significant difference which should be considered.

This is just an overview of the key findings – download the report here to read more about cross-border delivery trends.