Affiliate marketing is poised to drive international shopping, according to research by global affiliate marketing network Rakuten LinkShare, and research and advisory firm Forrester.

The joint survey found that in the US, shoppers who started their purchase journey on an affiliate site spent more than the average online shopper ($1,617 vs. $1,547), and they are most loyal to brands that make offers on multiple websites. However, they are also most sensitive to steep shipping charges

The study showed that in the UK, online shoppers expect retailers to battle for their business with 61% saying they would reconsider an abandoned shopping basket if they received an offer.

It showed that Canadian consumers love loyalty programmes, with 37% saying they make heavy use of loyalty and cashback sites, compared to only 22% of respondents in other countries.

Understanding Intricacies of Certain Markets

Consumers in Japan proved ‘fickle but persuadable’, as they are the highest users of comparison and multi-brand shopping sites, with 48% of shoppers using these, compared to 32% in other countries.

Rakuten LinkShare managing director, Mark Haviland, said the majority of merchant and publisher brands the company works with are seeing growth opportunities in diverse foreign markets. By commissioning the survey, the company wanted to help them understand the intricacies of certain markets, and how they might impact marketing and sales strategies.  

“Shoppers in different markets are incentivised to purchase in different ways,” Haviland said.

“To illustrate, for a UK affiliate manager looking to capitalise on cross-border commerce in the US, it’s not as simple as rolling out an existing affiliate programme and expecting results. Research suggests US shoppers are particularly loyal to brands that make offers on multiple websites, so affiliate programmes should be tailored to cater to this propensity.”

Competing With Shipping Costs

The report, which involved more than 2,500 shoppers from across the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, France and Germany, found that 68% of online shoppers have bought something online from outside their home country in the past year.

In the UK this rises to 75%, with three quarters of shoppers buying cross-border in the last 12 months, with transactions between the UK and the US being particularly well-established.

The survey also found that UK advertisers find it hard to compete with US-based advertisers, because of the higher shipping costs. As a result, this forces those UK-based, to focus on selling only high-margin products in the US.

The survey found that 56% of Brazilians plan to increase the share of their online shopping that they import next year, by far the highest from any of the eight countries surveyed.

Survey results showed that payment methods are distinct in China, with many shoppers paying in cash on receipt of goods, making a credit card only approach highly limiting in China

Haviland said the report showed that the e-commerce infrastructure must adapt to this new global market. He said logistical issues such as shipping costs, time and a lack of local payment options and taxes, are also impeding growth for an effective global e-commerce model.

“With e-commerce expected to grow to $1.3 trillion by the end of this year, brands and advertisers are looking for advice and insights for how to plan and execute their global online strategies,” Haviland continued.

“We believe the study provides the industry with fresh data and key insights that highlight how performance marketing has become a leading strategy for online retailers entering new markets.”