International online sales transacted through e-commerce technology and services provider eShopWorld (ESW) rose by 82% year-over-year in 2020, showcasing the extent of the market opportunity available to globally optimized retailers and brands.
Sales data released by ESW tracks 2020’s turbulent path as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the world. Strong growth of cross-border sales slowed in March as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated, creating uncertainty that undermined consumer confidence, but that initial ebb was short-lived, the company’s data show.
“2020 saw historic year-over-year growth in cross-border e-commerce sales and reinforced how crucial international e-commerce is to retailers and brands, enabling them to meet consumer demand at its point of origin, while mitigating fluctuations in their domestic markets,” said Tommy Kelly, CEO of ESW. “Both our sales figures and consumer research show that retailers must have a deep understanding of global markets that allows them to offer a localized, customer-centric and cost-competitive shopping experience if they want to maintain the loyalty of existing customers and attract new ones. Prioritizing investment in a best-in-class global e-commerce offering is critical to meeting global consumer demand.”
Cross-border e-commerce sales went on to rebound rapidly beginning in April, rising to unprecedented levels as consumer demand for online shopping soared amid lockdown orders. In response, many retailers accelerated their digital transformation to keep up with international e-commerce demand. ESW data recorded accelerated global sales growth in excess of 100% from April onward, peaking at 141% in July, as retailers found sources of growth in multiple international markets.
A ESW consumer survey of more than 22,000 consumers across 11 countries reveals the impetus behind these record figures. The study 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 (36%) and availability of products that couldn’t be found in the shopper’s own region (35%).