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, at right.

Comments (13)

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  • anon

    I am very upset with the postal service. They will not let us move a mailbox to the street it belongs on. The postmaster in Newark, Arkansas claims that it's a private road and it is a county road that already has a mail route. She refuses to even put it in writing or even talk to me. She told me that I was on my own, that she had made her decision and wasn't going to do anything. I have contacted the managers office, the US postal service the Inspector general's office which is this one and not one has took ANY action. They have all passed the buck and one man over the local office told me off and hung up on me for following up with my complaint. Now I'm having to go up to a State level because nobody will do anything. What good is the Postal Service when they REFUSE to do anything? DISGUSTED.

    Feb 21, 2017
  • anon

    hi i had filled a report a couple of months ago about somone elses mail being delivered to my residents the problom still continues i filled out forms and from what i see but a rude system and waste of my time ...............

    Feb 21, 2017
  • anon

    bona fides

    Feb 13, 2017
  • anon

    why has the mail person not come down out street for two days know i understand that we dont get mail everyday but the mail person has not even been down out street at all none of the neighborhood got mail because the mail deliverer just didnt bother to come down out street at all and i dont understand why the mail person when they do show up would give out neighbors mail all the freaken time

    Feb 10, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your comments. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and many of these issues fall outside of our jurisdiction. However, we do read all blog comments and pass on relevant information to our auditors and investigators. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, 1 (800) 275-8777, or to file an online complaint with Customer Service (and for frequently asked questions), go to the USPS Website and enter "Customer Service Help" in the search function.

    Feb 10, 2017
  • anon

    When did USPS start furnishing shipping boxes that appear to be made in China? I tried using a small box to ship outside of the country, The tabs didn't match, the folds didn't fold correctly, and the weight of the package was increased by the amount of tape required!! I hope no future shipments will be necessary but if so I will make for find my own box. It is difficult enough to have a package destined to Israel ending up in Brazil (not my mistake) so I avoid shipping if at all possible. If it gets there, I worry constantly what will be missing.

    Feb 08, 2017
  • anon

    I watched this Holiday season as the Postmaster and both Supervisors in my office fraudulently scanned thousands of packages as delivered while inside the post office and then given to CCA's, RCA, Rural Carriers, Carriers to take on the street with absolutely ZERO tracking information. To them, falsifying postal records was business as usual. I filed an OIG complaint, several in fact, but have seen no indication of anything being done yet. I am also told as far as fraud goes, that this is just "the tip of the iceberg" in my office (from someone else who works there). Would be nice to work in an environment that is not dedicated to blatant fraud and extremely shady practices and activities. I hope OIG is not sitting on their hands or that they "lost my complaints". I do not have much hope as the abusive work environment endures....

    Feb 07, 2017
  • anon

    Shipping costs matter most. Speed is also very importent, because the longer an item is in transit, the more likely it is that it may be lost. Tracking is grossly overvalued. It neither makes the transit any safer nor does it truely tell you where the item is, e.g. when tracking tells you that the item has reached its destination, it usually means that it got stuck somewhere in customs and many shipments get lost in customs! This is my experiance from some 500 shipments per year.

    Feb 07, 2017
  • anon

    much safer your packages or shipment deliver at your door very effective...amazing

    Feb 07, 2017
  • anon

    Why is tracking from the US to other countries, except Canada, no longer available?

    Feb 06, 2017
  • anon

    supply property owners with mail boxes for two or tree home properties I live off artur street but my one story home address is listed as one half and have dealt with missing mails mail going to front house stolen mail mail going to different address address not reported to get packages delivered. and and lost of much monies and even postal delivery held back at p.o. boxes by those of biblical followers interfering with mail who are now right hateful and bad business people violating privacy of mail deliverys using volunteers related to churches who are down right thieves. more vets should be hired and always with large mail and packages two should work on trucks one for walking one for driving that can be trusted and not easily paid off to steal and tamper with might. walkers that can not drive who are trust worthy vets or those on social security should be able to work with all postal and package delivery who keep private said address of persons and will no the rules of law in and out of constitutional rights of violaters who can cause fraud and be able to report suspicious activities. to federal government. without being religiously predjudice or racial sexist in anyway and should be on test questioner for hiring practices for all employment in this united states government. and carry cameras if need be. there should always be some one sitting in the truck and trucks be able to be locked up in which I have seen a lot. new secure trucks should be made that are more secure or more security made for trucks

    Feb 06, 2017
  • anon

    For me full tracking and day-certain delivery are important. When I ordered from overseas I was impressed that DHL would call my phone the day before the scheduled delivery. The recorded message would provide advance notification of delivery and the website where changes to the delivery options can be made. This not only informs the recipient, but it also helps DHL to deliver on the first attempt.

    Feb 06, 2017
  • anon

    Price of delivery in most cases is very important to us. Then, certainty of date delivered. The post office people are to be commended for the great work they do. The carriers work hard and long hours and really do not get paid that well. We believe at least their retirement benefits should be increased in order for them to live and not have to work until they die after they have retired. We are not postal employees.

    Feb 06, 2017

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