We asked ourselves this question. And then we came up with some more questions and thoughts which we like to share with our readers.

Who is most likely to shop abroad?

People which have executed numerous online orders within their own country are familiar with e-commerce and have accumulated trust in online transactions. Out of that group come those consumers which are willing to explore international online shopping.  Online shopping is on the rise and the number of potential international shoppers grows by the year.

Why would a consumer want to shop abroad?

  • To save money. This is true for most people.
  • Buy items, not yet available within the shopper’s country. Most likely a smaller group.

What top two product groups will a consumer look for abroad?

  • Electronic gadgets: But the prospect of potential warranty issues and country-specific functions of some electronic devices will rightfully deter some shoppers.
  • Clothing: But a successful international online purchase of any clothing item, dictates that you know your size. International return shipments are prohibitively expensive. Sizing charts may help during the online purchase, but the safe bet is to stick with a brand and model known to fit.

What brands will a consumer shop for abroad?

Known brands. Worldwide ad campaigns work and induce consumer’s desire. Quality, functionality or fit of these products are known.

How will companies react to international selling of their branded products?

Above we determined that well known brands are the ones most likely sought after by international shoppers, because they desire the brand, know what works, and are expecting to find a marvelous bargain in the United States. For example Levis Jeans: In Germany they cost four times more than in the U.S..

We believe that Levis has a vested interest to protect their German MSRPs and we would think that any U.S. based online merchant, shipping Levis products in volume to Germany, should expect to get his feathers ruffled by Mr. Levis himself. Any company with an international distributed brand, like Levis, will try to protect the varying MRSPs in each country.

Even eBay is affected by manufacturer’s attempts to protect their established brand distribution channels. TechDirt reported that “eBay has now been fined yet again, because of a French ban on selling even legally purchased brands of LVMH perfumes if you’re not an authorized distributor”. Unrelated to this French case, eBay is selling internationally via BorderLinx. We would not be overly surprised to see some future litigation involving brands, merchants and possibly parts of the international e-commerce supply chain.

Is Postal Sanity saying that international e-commerce has no future?

Absolutely not. International e-commerce can be a great vehicle for nationally confined products to expand internationally. For example: If quality tools in Europe are still as expensive as they used to be, then Sears may take a stab at Europe with their quality line of tools.

In the near future we may witness well targeted (cross border) promotions and brand building for various products. Additionally, suppliers of reverse logistics may find a nice niche market(s) to handle product returns, satisfying international shoppers and merchants alike.