What would Canadians give up in order to keep internet access? The top answer might surprise you!
Canadian internet users would rather give up fast food than their ability to access their favorite websites. But thankfully, only 1% of Canadians would give up showering to stay connected! That’s just one example of quirky and strange cultural differences in online engagement behaviors around the world.
If you’re planning to expand your e-commerce operations into other countries, it’s important to understand that cultures differ. What works as a sales or marketing tactic in one country might not easily translate to another.
Here are some facts about different countries and their people’s buying habits that demonstrate the cultural differences (and similarities!) we have as online shoppers.
Canadians are very loyal to domestically produced products. A survey by ebates.ca, a leader in online cash-back shopping, found that 92% of Canadians make a point of purchasing Canadian brands and products.
In South Korea, however, e-commerce consumers are less concerned with buying products made domestically and are increasingly inclined to purchase non-domestic products, often at much lower prices. South Koreans will sacrifice speed of shipping for lower product costs.
E-commerce shopping is often seen as a characteristic of the younger generation, and in many countries, that is in fact the case. However, in France, the majority of online shoppers fall into older demographic groups—primarily 35 to 49, followed by 25 to 34.
In Germany, almost 60% of e-commerce sales come from communities with less than 50,000 inhabitants rather than big city centers. A survey found that 73% of Germans look for free returns, which isn’t surprising considering Germans are some of the worst offenders for returning online purchases! Free shipping is less important to them at 43%.
Brits like free. A report from Advantec states that British consumers would rather pay more for a product that has free delivery compared to the same product where the price plus delivery charge is actually less in total!
A 2018 SAP Consumer Propensity Report revealed that Australian e-commerce consumers want simple online shopping features (e.g., an easy returns process) and experiences (e.g., comparison tools to check prices and specifications). Less important were new technologies (e.g., chatbots, 24/7 customer service, and virtual/augmented reality).
If you plan on expanding your e-commerce operations to Japan and don’t plan on translating your site, you likely won’t be very successful. More than 99% of Japan’s population speak only Japanese.
It’s not just the cultural differences of each country’s consumers you have to consider. Every country also regulates what you can and can’t import or sell online. In addition, they all have their own rules on how to conduct your e-commerce business. For example, discount sales in France are government regulated and run twice per year: once after Christmas and again during the summer. Several online sellers, both U.S. and European, have been fined in France for violating rules and advertising “online sales” outside of permitted holiday periods. As a result of these restrictions, the twice-yearly sales are hugely popular. Consumers expect the savings to be big—think Black Friday sales in the U.S.
What does this mean for e-commerce retailers?
Ultimately, these differences highlight how much there is to think about when you start selling your product globally. But it’s important to remember what we’ve talked about here barely scratches the surface. Retailers must consider everything from pricing structure to shipping options, from returns policy to language. You must review every element of your website and marketing strategy to ensure it’s optimized for each country.