How a Year of COVID Affected Global Cross-Border E-Commerce

Parcel Monitor - Global Cross Border E-Commerce

(Click here to view the HD version of the infographic)

The IPC Cross-border E-commerce Shopper Survey 2020 provides a complete picture of the global trends and drivers shaping cross-border e-commerce from the perspective of online consumers. In this edition, the International Postal Corporation (IPC) also included questions specific to the impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce and consumers’ online purchasing behavior. 

For this study, IPC surveyed 33,594 online shoppers across 40 countries that accounts for 95% of the world’s e-commerce market. The respondents were e-commerce consumers who have made cross-border online purchases in the previous year.

Read on to find out some of our key findings below:

1. Consumers were purchasing more domestically due to COVID-19, and in specific product categories

Question: How have your shopping habits been affected by COVID 19 in terms of buying from e retailers based in your country? And how have your shopping habits been affected by COVID-19 in terms of buying from e retailers based abroad?

IPC Global Cross Border E-Commerce Shopper Survey 2020

(Click here to view the HD version of the infographic)

Source: IPC Cross-Border E-Commerce Shopper Survey 2020

  • 51% of consumers bought more from domestic e-retailers due to COVID-19.
  • Online purchases in clothing, footwear, and apparel; health and beauty; and groceries saw the  biggest increases of 30%, 27% and 10% respectively. 

2. Consumer satisfaction was lowest with delivery speed, and highest for delivery cost

From IPC’s study, it appears that almost half of all respondents (47%) thought the delivery for their online purchase took longer due to COVID-19. This was highest in Cyprus (91%), Australia and South Africa (both 77%), India (75%) and New Zealand (70%). 

Question: Do you think that delivery took longer due to COVID-19?

Cross Border E-Commerce

(Click here to view the HD version of the infographic)

Source: IPC Cross-Border E-Commerce Shopper Survey 2020

In fact, 31% of respondents expressed that cross-border deliveries took 15 days on average to arrive. 

Apart from delivery time, the IPC’s shopper survey measured consumers’ level of satisfaction with six key elements: delivery cost, delivery location, tracking, delivery speed, customs and returns. Of these six elements, “delivery location” and “delivery cost” saw the highest satisfaction rate across consumers, with 68% and 62% respectively. In contrast, “delivery speed” had the lowest level of consumer satisfaction with only 39% of consumers extremely satisfied.

Interestingly, 31% of respondents expressed a preference for carbon-neutral delivery and would be willing to receive packages a few days later to reduce the environmental impact. 48% of respondents also indicated a preference for the packaging of their parcels to be recyclable and reusable. 

3. Cross-border parcels from China dropped, with Germany seeing a slight increase 

The most popular e-commerce retailer amongst consumers was Amazon; with 26% of respondents having made cross-border purchases on Amazon. The 2nd place belongs to AliExpress (19%), followed by eBay (11%) and Wish (9%).

In terms of countries, 37% of cross-border parcels came from China, followed by 13% from the USA, 11% from Germany, and 10% from the UK. Compared to 2019, China’s share decreased slightly by 2% in 2020. The other three markets maintained their market share, with Germany experiencing a small increase in 2020. 

Question: Please specify the country from which you bought this most recent online cross-border purchase.

Global Cross Border E-Commerce

(Click here to view the HD version of the infographic)

Source: IPC Cross-Border E-Commerce Shopper Survey 2020


With postal rates changes and VAT introduction on low-value e-commerce items entering the EU from July 2021, China’s market share might be further impacted in the future. As high as 77% respondents indicated that they would stop buying from China if online purchases increased by €10 per item.

Check out IPC’s full report here

About IPC

International Post Corporation (IPC) is the leading service provider of the global postal industry that provides leadership by driving service quality, interoperability and business-critical intelligence to support posts in defending existing business and expanding into new growth areas. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, IPC has positioned itself as a crucial coordination platform between posts worldwide and put in place operational solutions to ensure the continuity of cross-border mail flows.

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