By Daniel Hunter

Chinese consumers are the biggest online buyers of British goods, followed by the US, according to PayPal and Ipsos.

The analysis found that 25% of cross-border consumers buying online from the UK are from China, while 18% are from the US.

The research surveyed more than 17,500 online adults in 22 markets. It found that overall, the UK was the third most popular shopping destination for international online shoppers, after the US and China — traditional exporting power houses.

In China the most common reason for shopping internationally online is to buy clothes, footwear and accessories. Nearly half (45%) of Chinese cross-border consumers have purchased a product from these sectors from another country in the last 12 months. Thirty-eight percent of Chinese cross-border consumers have bought cosmetics and beauty products online from abroad, whilst 31% have purchased consumer electronics, computers, tablets, mobiles and other peripherals.

Over half (53%) of the Chinese online shoppers interviewed in the Ipsos survey said that they would be more likely to buy online from abroad if businesses provided a safe way to pay. Providing customer support in the local language would make 45% of Chinese online shoppers more likely to buy online internationally, whilst free shipping and free return shipping would encourage 43% and 42% of online shoppers to buy online from abroad respectively.

In the US, clothing, footwear and accessories are also the biggest reasons for international online shopping in the last year, with 34% of US cross-border shoppers surveyed buying these products from abroad in the past 12 months. Toys and hobbies and travel and transportation are the second most popular reasons to shop online internationally, with 18% of cross-border consumers buying from each of these groups. Jewellery is a close third, with 17% of cross-border buyers purchasing internationally in this category. Four out of 10 US online shoppers said that free shipping would make them more likely to shop online internationally. Meanwhile, 29% of online shoppers said that free return shipping, lower overall item costs and providing a safe way to pay would encourage them to shop more online abroad**.

Cameron McLean, Managing Director PayPal UK, said: “Given the ongoing woes in the Eurozone, the strength of Chinese and US online demand for British goods will come as welcome news to British exporting businesses. We’ve seen that Chinese spending on Singles’ Day, the world's biggest online retail sales day that took place earlier this month in China, generated billions of pounds in sales. This presents a huge opportunity for British businesses - particularly in retail, consumer electronics and cosmetics — if they access the market.

“The US is also a large consumer of British goods online, with consumers looking for clothes, toys, travel opportunities and jewellery from abroad. British businesses can capitalise on the international online shopping market, provided they can offer the right levels of safety, trust and translation to build consumer confidence.”

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