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Clothing is the most popular category for cross-border e-commerce

Lauretta Roberts
19 May 2021

Clothing is the most popular product category for international online purchases, followed by footwear and children’s clothing in second and third places, highlighting the extent of the trading opportunity available to UK apparel retailers and brands who are globally optimised.

Cross-border e-commerce expert eShopWorld’s (ESW) Global Voices 2021: Cross-Border Shopper Insights survey of more than 22,000 consumers across eleven countries showed one in every four (25%) shoppers surveyed purchased clothing from websites outside their home country in 2020. 

This figure increased to 31% of all shoppers in the Gen Z and Millennial demographics, demonstrating the opportunity for apparel brands to capitalise on growing international trading opportunities.

Footwear was the second most popular category with 15% of shoppers surveyed purchasing shoes internationally online, with 14% of respondents buying children’s clothing from a website outside their own country.  Overall, the study found 68% of shoppers made e-commerce purchases outside of their home country in 2020.

“With fashion sales in 2021 dipping below 2019 levels by as much as 15%, UK retailers and brands need to double down on outperforming channels and markets where there is faster recovery, and greater consumer demand, for revenue opportunities,” said Martim Avillez Oliveira, Chief Commercial Officer, EMEA and APAC.

“Brands and retailers partnering with ESW saw significant cross-border growth last year with total international online sales increasing 82% in 2020 compared to 2019. That demand shows no sign of abating, with trading 74% ahead of last year for the first four months of 2021. Increasing geographic diversity is imperative to offset depressed demand in the UK market, mitigate risk and maximise the addressable audience,” he added.

The top five global markets for cross-border purchases of clothing were Singapore (36%), Russia (32%), Chile (31%), France (29%) and Mexico (28%), highlighting potential for untapped revenue and growth opportunities for companies not currently targeting these markets.

“However, the routes to these international markets are littered with businesses that don’t have the digital capabilities, local expertise or capital needed to fully leverage these opportunities.  To succeed retailers must have a deep understanding of international markets to offer a localised, safe, customer-centric and cost competitive shopping experiences if they wish to maintain both the loyalty of existing customers and attract new ones,” added Oliveira.

ESW says it can help brands enter international markets in as little as six weeks, which is up to six times faster than if they had attempted to do so themselves.

Read more about this report here.

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