Knowing exactly where your package is and when it will arrive has the edge over how long it will take when it comes to what consumers want in cross-border delivery of online orders. That’s one of the key findings of the most recent survey from the International Post Corporation (IPC) on cross-border ecommerce shopping.

Online cross-border shoppers are more likely to pay extra for tracking than for speed of delivery. They also want electronic notification, so they know exactly when to expect the package, the IPC survey indicates. In addition, an overwhelming majority of respondents – 92 percent – said they wanted clear information about delivery charges before purchasing. And 88 percent said they wanted free returns or free delivery on purchases over a certain amount.

IPC is a consortium made up of postal administrations from developed countries, including the U.S. Postal Service. Member posts use this annual survey to understand consumer behavior so they can better meet customers’ needs and remove obstacles to cross-border growth.

This year’s survey highlights the growing volume of low-value, light-weight goods, such as clothing, books, and beauty products, that consumers are buying, in particular in the biggest markets: China accounted for 26 percent of the most recent cross-border purchases; followed by the U.S. (16 percent); and then Germany and the United Kingdom (both at 15 percent).

The survey also underscores just how huge the “big three” platforms are: Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba collectively account for two-thirds of cross-border purchases, with Amazon leading the charge at 31 percent of most recent cross-border purchases.

One particular opportunity for posts is in returns of online orders. While only 6 percent surveyed returned their parcels (up from 4 percent the previous year), they almost always used the post to make the return (94 percent). Cross-border returns are trickier than domestic ones, but they present huge growth potential for posts if they can make returns easy for both consumer and retailer.

What matters most to you in ordering an item online from another country? Is certainty of delivery date more important than speed? Would you pay more for tracking? What obstacles do you find when ordering from cross-border sites? 

Please also answer our poll question:

What matters most to you when ordering an item online from another country?

Comments (4)

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  • anon

    3/30/2017 -- Seems I am not the only person with issues receiving packages on time due to them being STUCK at a post office with no movement for several days. Then when you go online and file a complaint, the complaint gets routed to one's local post office for action. That does not make sense, when they are not the ones holding the package up. In my case it's the North Houston post office (AGAIN), who is holding my package, and has had it for the past 7 days. In fact, my package has traveled from Connecticut to Massachusetts, to North Houston, then to Richmond TX, back to North Houston, back to Richmond TX, and back to North Houston where my package has gone from Processing Exception, to In Transit to Destination, and now back to Processing Exception without ever leaving North Houston. How did my package go back to Processing Exception if North Houston claimed 9 hours before that it was In Transit to Destination. Also, why the heck did my package travel from CT to TX, when I live in MD! I could have drove to CT and picked up the package myself if I knew your service was going to be so terrible! You wonder why the post office is so disliked in America? This, and the many reasons below, are why the pot office is both disliked and not trusted in America!

    Mar 30, 2017
  • anon

    3/17/17-- I too am waiting for a pkg sent on 3/6/17 to my CO address and the tracking # shows it is in Richmond, CA as of 3/12/17 and it has not moved. The sender and I have tried email (no response), contacting our POs (sorry, have not idea why is't stuck in CA) and the #s available are a joke. I tried several numbers listed on the website for Richmond PO and Annex as well as #s provided by my PO. All rang numerous times and then cut off. The 1-800 # does not provide a resource to determine why my pkg is stuck in CA, just tells me it's in transit in CA. There were no other options for inquiry. Why does USPS make it so hard to take care of a problem??

    Mar 17, 2017
  • anon

    I order from Ali Express constantly. I use to fear never getting my items from them due to hearing horror stories from other buyers regarding dishonest sellers. That is not the case. My only problem getting my items is when they land here in Los Angeles and get stuck in limbo for over 9 - 12 days before someone decides to do their job and send them to my local post office for delivery. It is so frustrating. Apparently the USPS has no supervision and employees can ignore doing their jobs for however long they wish. I do think the postal system needs to be regulated. They are great in increasing postage rates but certainly lack in their delivery and tracking process.

    Mar 10, 2017
  • anon

    You people are amusing. You can't even get a package sufficiently tracked between California and Washington State and then when a customer complains the complaint is given to the local postmaster at the destination facility. You might just as well have round filed it for all the good it does. There are so many common sense things wrong with the post office that could be fixed with adequate supervision - it's not likely that anyone with a little common sense will ever step up to do that..

    Mar 04, 2017

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