In an increasingly globalised age, it can be natural to think that shopping is becoming an increasingly uniform process. However, the ways in which people shop and pay for their shopping is diverse – and often surprising.
With online retailing on a progressive growth path, understanding how consumers shop is not only of relevance to retailers in a specific location, but also to those in different countries who need to know how spending patterns are changing.
For this reason, Colliers International commissioned a new piece of research which looks at how we shop across the world.
The World Shopper study shows that one of the key influences on global shopping habits – particularly in developed countries – is that of the aging society. The number of people over 65 years of age is set to increase from 608m in 2015 to 1.5bn in 2050. The countries with the largest share of senior population will be Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany and Poland. This means that retailers need to gradually refocus their offer towards older generation. For example, British seniors are also one of the most tech savvy consumers in the world with 78% of them being ‘silver surfers’ who shop online.
On an international basis, the Chinese have emerged as one of the most powerful consumer groups. The potential of Chinese shoppers lies not only in the size of the country’s population, but also in the high level of spending. While the majority of the population still doesn’t earn enough to pay income tax and only 4% of people own a passport, Chinese spend a lot online.
However, of all the factors on change, it is hard not to conclude that it is our mobile phones – the ‘shopping centre in your pocket’ – which will be the biggest driver of change.
In this context, perhaps the most interesting recent shift is the use of non-domestic websites for purchasing goods online.
While European markets, and the US, show more widespread use of non-domestic websites and portals: ranging from 70% in Sweden to 24% in Poland and Russia, China and Japan hold much tighter reins on what can and can’t be bought from overseas. Only 3.1% of online buyers in China use non-Chinese websites. Good news for Alibaba, and a clear signal to international retailers as to how to tap into the Chinese consumer growth curve. Nearly one quarter of Russian online retail sales are made by cross-border purchases, 80% of which from Chinese stores.
Soon, the world shopper – armed with a mobile and a payment app – will literally be able to shop anywhere in the world.