How the World Shops Cross-Border


New Study on Trends in Global Cross-Border Shopping Reveals The French Prefer to Shop Online from SME Retailers

ROISSY, February 9, 2015—A new study commissioned by FedEx (FDX) and conducted by Forrester Consulting has revealed preferences of online shoppers both globally and in France. In an effort to better understand global purchasing behavior in cross-border e-commerce, researchers questioned more than 9,000 respondents in 17 countries and territories, and conducted interviews with small-and-medium businesses with cross-border operations.

With online buying behavior currently representing more than $1 trillion in global sales per year and forecasted to nearly double in the next four years according to Forrester Research data, the findings of the paper, “Seizing The Cross-Border Opportunity”** are revealing. As in many countries, clothing and apparel are the most popular online purchase, along with books, in France. The study also found a significant part of e-commerce involves cross-border shipments.

“This research provides deep insight into the priorities and preferences of global online customers and highlights how small and mid-sized retailers can better take advantage of the cross-border opportunity,” said Raj Subramaniam, executive vice president, Global Marketing, FedEx. “Knowledge about both the cultural similarities and differences in geographic markets can help businesses gain real online retail advantage.”


60% of French respondents indicated they buy items online at least once a month and 86% say they make online purchases of goods from merchants outside their country, especially from UK (53%) and Germany (44%) at least every few months.

An enthusiasm that benefits not only the biggest names in e-commerce but also thousands of small and mid-size businesses. French respondents are really keen on making online purchases from SME retailers because they like to support this type of business (41%). They also appreciate them because their total costs are generally lower (44%), or to source specialty and unique items (42%).

The top five physical items purchased online in France are:

  1. Apparel and clothing accessories (66% of online shoppers in France)
  2. Books (51%)
  3. Footwear (48%)
  4. Computer hardware (42%)
  5. Appliances (40%)

Payment method is not widely shared in EMEA. If credit card is the first payment method in France (55% of online shoppers), other countries prefer to use digital method, PayPal for example.


  • Primary online shopping destinations are the US, China and the UK. While shoppers indicated buying cross-border from all 17 international markets included in the study, the US, China and the UK were the top three exporters of online purchases.
  • Cross-border shoppers prefer to purchase from well-known major multi-brand retailers and global online marketplaces. In fact, the majority of respondents in every country surveyed ranked major multi-brand online retailers or marketplaces as their first choice out of five business types for cross-border purchases. The findings indicate an effective way for SME retailers to enter the global arena is through online marketplaces.
  • Duties and taxes curb cross-border activity. While shipping cost and delivery time are top-of-mind with shoppers, 35% of global respondents cited high duties/taxes as a concern for cross-border shopping with the most significant numbers coming from Canada – 62% of Canadians believe duties and taxes are an issue – higher than any other country.

“The results of this study on global trends suggests that simplifying regulations by harmonising duty free limits and lowering tariffs could result in significantly more cross-border trade, benefitting consumers and businesses around the world,” said David Cunningham, chief operating officer & president, international, FedEx Express.

In a world of globalized shopping, cross-border online trade seems destined to expand exponentially, benefitting small and mid-size businesses and consumers with exciting and expanding opportunities.

** Seizing The Cross-Border Opportunity” a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of FedEx, December 2014:

About the research study
Forrester conducted an online survey of 9,006 global online consumers and interviewed 34 small and medium size businesses with international e-commerce operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Korea, the UK, and the US to evaluate the current attitudes toward and experiences with cross-border shopping and order fulfilment, including the challenges and concerns faced by both groups in expanding these practices. Consumer survey participants included those aged 18 or older who have ordered a physical item shipped to themselves or another recipient over the internet within the past 12 months. Small and medium-size business interviewees were asked about the factors leading to their decisions to start an international e-commerce business, their experiences and challenges with fulfilling such orders, and the factors that may enable them to expand this practice. The study took place between July and September 2014.

About FedEx Express
FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. FedEx Express uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date with a money-back guarantee.

About FedEx Corp.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $47 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 300,000 team members to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit