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International Brands Led Millennial’s Pandemic-Induced E-Commerce Shopping Habits

With in-person shopping largely limited, many millennials went straight to their favorite international brands’ websites for purchases during the first half of 2021, a new survey has found  — with clothing and footwear among the most-purchased categories.

Over the last six months, 52% of people age 25 to 34 made direct-to-consumer e-commerce purchases from international brands, according to eShopWorld’s July Global Voices: Pre-Peak Pulse 2021 survey of about 15,000 consumers in 14 countries.

“Shuttered stores and reduced access to physical shops prompted consumers to purchase items online that they normally would have validated and bought in-store,” ESW said in a statement.

By region, 63% of millennials in both South Africa and India purchased their favorite international brands online, the survey found, followed by 56% in the United Arab Emirates, 53% in China, and 52% in the United States, said ESW, an e-commerce company for brands and retailers.

“Brands that understand the evolution of traditional retailing see the importance of blending their direct international e-commerce trading with their existing omnichannel structure,” said Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, ESW’s president and CEO of the Americas. “Stores of the future will be experiential meccas, where brands will espouse and reinforce the brand personas and experiences they are building on social media. But the transactional engine for future growth has undoubtedly accelerated into digital channels, and it seems unlikely that trend will ever reverse.”

ESW also surveyed Gen X and baby boomers, and found that even more people purchased international brands online as the age bracket increased. Among those 25 to 44 years old, 58% of people bought international brands online, said the report. Of all global shoppers not limited to age, 46% of people said they purchased items from outside of their home countries.

In terms of purchases made by all shoppers, by category, 25% of items bought were clothing and accessories, 19% of purchases were for footwear, and 18% were of luxury items.

“Some 56% of global shoppers admitted to spending more online as a coping mechanism, either treating themselves to ‘pick-me-ups’ to reward themselves for getting through lockdowns or to alleviate the emotional stress of the pandemic,” ESW said.

The company recommended that, because of this strong spending, retailers must try to understand international markets more — and across buying channels. “Only then can they truly open up the cross-border commerce opportunity by both maintaining the loyalty of existing customers and attracting new ones,” said Martim Avillez Oliveira, chief commercial officer of EMEA and APAC at ESW.

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