E-commerce shapes global trade

E-commerce is shaping more than just consumer habits, with global shipping providers forced to react to these evolving trends.


Consumers are no longer confined to buying products from physical stores, with the rise of e-commerce now making it substantially easier to order, pay for and ship almost anything from nearly any place on earth.

The prevalence of this behaviour has reached the point where it is directly affecting the nature of global shipping providers, with these firms noticing increased traffic in particular areas. Consumer demand is dictating what is being shipped and where, requiring that not only couriers are up to task, but online payment methods are as well.

As it stands, e-commerce is responsible for the current and continued success of these trends, as without a global payment platform it would not have such an international reach.

How is e-commerce dictating worldwide shipping?

Put simply, global shipping companies are reacting to increased online shopping trends that have dictated new trade routes, a phenomenon the e-commerce platform provider PayPal is calling “the modern spice routes”.

In its report of the same name, the firm noted it’s not just online shopping that’s increasing, but cross-border online shopping in particular. In 2013 – when the report was released – the market for this was worth US$105 million, and involved 94 million individuals.

By 2018, PayPal is expecting this to rise by around 200 per cent to a total value of $307 billion. For this to happen, 130 million people will need to actively buy products from across international borders.

The firm found there were specific items consumers prioritised when shopping online. Clothes and accessories dominated the results, accounting for $12.5 billion worth of cross-border spending. Health and beauty products took second place, with $7.6 billions spent.

President of PayPal, David Marcus said cross-border trade is not new, as international products have been found in stores for years.

“What is new is how easy it has now become for consumers to shop online directly from merchants around the world and the massive opportunity that represents,” he said.

According to a Forrester study commissioned by FedEx, the main exporters for these goods are China, the US and the UK.

Are Australian consumers following suit?

By Roy Morgan Research’s account, Australian shoppers have also embraced the potential of e-commerce, with nearly 40 per cent of the population buying something online at least once a month.

Australians are most interested in purchasing leisure and entertainment material online, which ranked first by a significant amount over reading materials and fashion.