Forrester Data has just released its first global cross-border online retail forecast covering 29 countries worldwide, helping retailers understand the size and growth of the online cross-border market by country and region and identify the region-to-region flow of trade. Cross-border online B2C sales will more than double in the next five years to reach $424 billion in 2021, as consumers find online cross-border shopping easier, faster, and more convenient:
- Cross-border shoppers in developing markets are increasing significantly. Metropolitan China in particular saw a large jump in its share of online buyers shopping across borders in 2015. Online cross-border buyer growth is strongest in developing economies: Latin America, Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East will see double-digit compound annual growth over the next five years — significantly more than the growth in Europe and North America.
- Marketplaces are increasing their share of cross-border sales. Cross-border shoppers prefer to use global marketplaces when they shop abroad. Alibaba increased its share of online sales from outside China. Online marketplace Rakuten reported 41% growth in cross-border sales in 2015, more than twice the growth of the domestic Japanese eCommerce market. In Germany, France, and the UK, more than half of cross-border buyers buy from Amazon and eBay. Amazon merchants’ cross-border sales doubled in 2014.
- Cross-border shopping is becoming easier and faster. Free-trade zones (FTZs) in China lower taxes on imported goods. Bonded warehouses within FTZs allow retailers to ship goods across borders in anticipation of a sale, reducing the time to deliver to the consumer to just two to three days.
- Cross-border trade is forcing retailers to consolidate their brick-and-mortar stores. Eighty percent of luxury sales in China take place across borders. Luxury retailers are reducing their investment in opening physical stores. Burberry, for example, is cutting its number of retail staff in Hong Kong by 25%, and LVMH has recently closed three stores in China.