New research from Royal Mail which will be published soon reveals that average shopper in America spends $86 (£66) per month shopping on UK websites. One in seven (14%) American online shoppers have purchased from a UK site in the last three months.
The main reason American online shoppers buy from UK retailers is to purchase items that are exclusive to the UK (43%), are better quality (21%) and they know will be genuine (19%). Nine in ten of these shoppers trust items purchased from UK sites not to be fake, three-quarters (74%) buy from UK sites when products are not available locally and 71% like to purchase British brands.
Royal Mail, as the biggest carrier in the country, are ideally placed to monitor trends across the industry and say that “The ability to return items for free, track items in full, as well as having a clear returns policy is more likely to encourage American online shoppers to use UK sites. The option to pay in local currency and provide good customer service is also important.”
Word of mouth is the most common way US shoppers discover UK websites. Purchases are also more likely to be unplanned and made in the process of shopping rather than specifically chosen beforehand. This suggests that if you want to target US consumers that promoting your website with specific hooks to purchase unique and interesting products could be the way to go. Of course, paid search on search engines makes sense, but it’s unlikely that you’ll tap into implulse buying American online shoppers through search so exploring more innovative avenues makes sense.
Shopping habits of US consumers revealed by Royal Mail
- The average shopper in America spends $103 (£79) per month shopping online. US shoppers make purchases twice a month and 79% of total shopping spend happens online. The average American online shopper is fifty years old and is more likely to be female and live in a suburban setting.
- Half of US shoppers make purchases via their smartphone (up from 32% in 2015), compared to the International average of 44% and UK average of 39%. 80% use a laptop or desktop to make online purchases and 24% use a tablet.
- When it comes to products, the top two categories are clothes (47%) and books (25%) for American online shoppers. Healthcare products (24%) are also popular and shoppers are significantly more likely to purchase them compared to the International average of 15%.
- When it comes to returns, over a quarter (26%) of American online shoppers have returned an item during the last three months. Two-thirds (66%) would be unlikely to shop with a retailer following a difficult return experience.
“It’s important for retailers to understand the distinct shopping habits of consumers in different countries. Shoppers in the US are regularly purchasing goods online and increasingly using their smartphone to do so. Clothes and books are particularly popular but it’s interesting to see that Americans are more likely to purchase healthcare products than the International average.”
– Royal Mail Spokesperson
How to encourage American online shoppers to buy from you
Knowing that American online shoppers are happy to buy from the UK, should encourage you to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Marketplaces can make it easy, for instance with eBay’s Global Shipping Program or just adding shipping costs to the US on your UK listings. However, it’s also a reminder that it’s worth listing directly on US marketplaces to get your products directly in front of consumers who are already shopping on UK websites.
If you want to attract US shoppers to your website, then some basics like having a currency conversion tab to enable them to see prices in US dollars will definitely increase conversion rates. Offering a returns service with a domestic US address will also appeal and give reassurance increasing the likelihood of a sale.