Purchasing from China: what do European consumers value?

insights  September 26, 2018

The number of European online shoppers that buy cross-border is continuing to increase rapidly[1]. This is due in part to the advancement of technology and the increased confidence of European consumers to order online in other countries. Of the foreign online stores, Chinese shopping sites are the most popular among European e-commerce consumers[2]. This is due to the wide range and variety of products, the low product prices and the delivery of worldwide shipping. However, European consumers also experience disadvantages of ordering online from China. One of these is the long delivery times for products. Does this disadvantage outweigh the benefit of low delivery costs? What do European consumers attach more importance to when ordering online from Chinese online stores: delivery costs or delivery time?

Of the foreign online stores, Chinese shopping sites are the most popular among European e-commerce consumers

Delivery costs or delivery time?
A disadvantage experienced by European consumers when ordering online products from Chinese online stores is the long delivery time. This can sometimes take up to a few weeks. Research from B2C Europe shows that the average delivery time of European consumers was 2.6 weeks for the most recent order from a Chinese online store.

In order to meet the foreign consumer demands in terms of delivery times, various Chinese online stores, such as LightInTheBox and AliExpress, offer express deliveries. The shipping time is usually less than a week, but the European consumer pays a higher delivery costs. The exact amount often depends on the purchase amount, but is usually around 10-20 euros. European consumers often find costs more important when ordering from a Chinese online store than the long delivery time. This is evident from research from B2C Europe, which shows that only 24% of consumers think Chinese delivery times are acceptable, but that consumers at the same time do not want to pay for a fast delivery. This is especially evident of the high percentage of Swedish (44%) and Dutch online shoppers (44%) who don’t want to pay extra for a faster delivery. More than a third of European online shoppers (34%) are not willing to pay extra for a faster delivery, nearly a quarter (23%) are willing to pay 2,50 euros more, almost a fifth (18%) is willing to pay 5 euros and 17 percent is willing to pay 1 euro for delivery from Chinese online stores within 1 week. Only a few European consumers (8%) are willing to pay 10 euros more for express delivery.

All in all, it appears that European e-shoppers attach more value to the delivery costs than to the delivery time. The fact that few European consumers want to pay more for the delivery is probably because the products bought in Chinese online stores are relatively cheap, so the delivery costs in that case can quickly double the order price.

[1] Ecommece News Europe (2018). 71% of European e-shoppers buy cross-border.
[2] PostNord (2018) E-commerce in Europe 2017.
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