Retail in Asia


More than 70 percent of Millennial Chinese shoppers made cross-border purchases in 2021

Approximately 70 percent of Millennial Chinese shoppers made cross-border purchases in 2021, as Asia’s increasingly digitalised consumers looked to overseas brands and retailers when online shopping.

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According to ESW’s recent ‘Global Voice‘ report, Chinese Millennials led the way for cross-border e-commerce in China with 72 percent saying they made an overseas purchased in 2021, outpacing China’s Gen X (14 percent) and Gen Z (11 percent), with just 2 percent of Baby Boomers making a cross-border purchase during the year.

Lower costs and product diversity drove the cross-border trend in 2021, the report found, with 24 percent of Chinese shoppers saying they shopped online because the cost was lower overseas for the same product in China. Some 22 percent of Chinese shoppers said they shopped internationally as it offered them products that they couldn’t find locally.

However, a factor to consider when online shopping internationally was the shipping, according to the report. Some 22 percent of Chinese shoppers said shipping costs were too high, while 29 percent of shoppers said the shipping for overseas companies took too long to arrive.

As a result, some 65 percent of cross-border shoppers in China said they failed to return an unwanted item in 2021 due to the cost of shipping the item back to its market of origin.

Nevertheless, online shopping remains strong going into 2022, with the pandemic ushering in new online shopping behaviours and preferences.

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Of the Chinese participants surveyed by ESW, some 53 percent said they now prefer shopping online, compared to in-store, with 45 percent of those surveyed admitting they plan to spend more online in 2022, compared to 2021. Meanwhile, 42 percent of Chinese shoppers said they plan to spend about the same online in 2022, with just 9 percent planning to spend less this year, the report concluded.