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Without a doubt, one of the most exciting aspects to e-commerce is the potential for creating a truly global reach for your business. With the increase in high-speed internet availability and improvements in global shipping practices, it's possible to include almost everyone in the developed work in your target demographics. Despite the widely varied cultural quirks of nations around the world, there are surprisingly consistent demands among consumers no matter where they happen to live. A recent study from the well known e-commerce analytics firm comScore highlighted this fact, after interviewing almost 15,000 online shoppers from around the world, showing clear parallels in what customers expect in terms of their satisfaction with their shopping experience and what services or improvements they would like retailers to implement.
The majority of online shoppers demands fell consistently into three general categories. The most prominent of these was the desire for free shipping, often with as many as half to three-quarters of all customers saying that they have added extra items to their shopping carts in order to reach a retailers 'free shipping' threshold, highlighting the value of this technique as a sales driver.
The second most popular demand was the ability to quickly and easily return products that were purchased online. This likely poses the most problems for retailers, as many customers hoped for the ability to purchase online and then return unwanted items in store - obviously problematic if your business doesn't maintain a physical presence in the customer's home country. However, as Amazon and other retailers are experimenting with 'pickup' locations, where customers can order online and then pick up their purchases at a centralised location, this also suggests a market gap for a logistics company able to process returns for others.
Finally, as we have indicated in previous posts, many customers are looking for a consistent experience across multiple channels. Mobile and social media integration and consistency were regularly mentioned as effective marketing channels, with many customers joining social groups on Facebook or Twitter to receive special promotions.
Also interesting were the discrepancies between nations, most notably in the massive emerging marketplace that is China. China had the highest percentage of mobile device owners who used their tablets or smartphones to make purchases, with 78% of smartphone owners and 81% of tablet owners making purchases. To drill deeper into the data to ensure a competitive advantages in the global marketplace, check out the full range of statistics from the comScore report here.