Younger, Digitally Native Consumers Are the Most Frequent Cross-Border E-Commerce Shoppers, New Survey Shows

eShopWorld Study Also Finds Nearly 70% of Global Consumers Shopped Cross-Border in 2020

NEW YORK--()--Younger, digitally native consumers ages 25–34 were the group most likely to have made 10 or more e-commerce purchases outside their home country in the past year, according to a new global survey across 11 countries from eShopWorld (ESW), the world’s leading cross-border e-commerce company. The Global Voices 2021: Cross-Border Shopper Insights study also found that, overall, 68% of shoppers surveyed made e-commerce purchases outside their home country in 2020.

“Younger consumers have always been more comfortable shopping online, but our survey data show that they are now increasingly embracing international e-commerce as more retailers and brands eliminate friction by offering conveniences such as click and collect, return to store and promised delivery date,” said Tommy Kelly, CEO of ESW. “People are still restricted in their ability to travel and shop in person around the world, and cross-border e-commerce continues to be an attractive alternative for these shoppers. Our study also indicates that consumers are purchasing a variety of product categories from foreign brands, so companies that can provide a savvy, localized shopping experience have a significant opportunity to capture this market that grew 82% last year and shows no signs of slowing down.”


  • Younger, digitally native consumers shop global brands most often. Shoppers ages 25–34 were the group most likely (33%) to have made 11 or more e-commerce purchases outside their home country in the past year. This was followed by consumers ages 35–44 (32%) and those ages 18–24 (29%).
  • Apparel, toys, and health and beauty are the most favored categories among younger cross-border shoppers. Clothing (30%), toys (19%), and health and beauty (19%) were the most popular product categories purchased by cross-border shoppers in the 25–34 age group over the past six months, according to the study.
  • Millennials are the highest spenders. Shoppers in the millennial demographic accounted for nearly half (47%) of respondents who had spent more than $500 on cross-border e-commerce purchases in the past year, followed by Gen Xers (27%) and Gen Zers (15%).
  • Gen Zers are the group most likely to buy direct from brands. Gen Zers shop from brands’ sites directly, rather than from marketplaces or a mix of brand and marketplace sites, most frequently. Some 29% of this group has shopped cross-border directly from brands versus 23% of millennials and 23% of Gen Xers.
  • US brands are the most popular with young, global shoppers. Some 55% of non-US consumers ages 18–34 shopped from US sites in the past 12 months, ranking the US as one of the most-shopped countries globally overall.
  • Paying via credit or debit card remains popular, but flexible payment options are gaining traction. Some 72% of all respondents used a credit or debit card to complete their cross-border transactions, but younger consumers are more frequently taking advantage of buy now, pay later options, with roughly 10% of respondents ages 18–24 and 11% of those ages 25–34 saying they have used these flexible payments to shop from international merchants.
  • Clothing is the top category overall, but younger shoppers in the Gen Z and millennial demographics are far more likely to purchase other categories cross-border, too. Consumers of all ages purchase apparel cross-border most frequently, but Gen Zers and millennials are buying other categories, such as health and beauty and luxury goods, at three times the rate of the oldest group of shoppers surveyed.
  • Offering a localized online shopping experience is key to a successful cross-border e-commerce experience. Consumers said being able to shop a site in their local language (34%) and local currency (34%) and seeing all charges, taxes and duties clearly displayed (33%) were the most important factors contributing to their decision to make a purchase.


ESW’s latest consumer survey was fielded from more than 22,000 consumers in 11 countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, the UK and the US), who were surveyed online in December 2020. Gen Zers are defined as consumers ages 18–24, millennials as ages 25–40, Gen Xers as ages 41–56, baby boomers as ages 57–75 and the Silent generation as ages 76–92.

About ESW

ESW is the cross-border e-commerce leader, empowering the world’s best-loved brands and retailers to make global shopping better, safer, simpler and faster, end to end. From compliance, data security, fraud protection, taxes, and tariffs to checkout, delivery, returns, customer service, and demand generation, our powerful combination of technology and human ingenuity covers the entire shopper journey across 200 markets.


Berns Communications Group
Michael McMullan/Danielle Poggi

Release Summary

Younger, digitally native consumers ages 25–34 were the group most likely to have made 10 or more e-commerce purchases outside their home country.


Berns Communications Group
Michael McMullan/Danielle Poggi