Cross-border e-commerce

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Unlimited possibilities for both consumer and online-retailer?

Due to advances in technology and the rising number of vendors, online-retail has in the last years risen steadily on a global scale. For 2017, the German trade association Handelsverband Deutschland e.V., or HDE for short, had forecast revenues of 48.7 billion euros, which corresponds to a 10.2 percent increase in comparison to the year prior (HDE 2017). Even better opportunities for growth are seen in cross-border e-commerce: Given an annual growth rate of 25 percent, it is expected that worldwide cross-border e-commerce sales will reach one trillion US-dollars in 2020 (Mc Kinsey & Company).

The European Commission aims to establish a common digital European Single Market. Dependable, trustworthy, highly productive, yet affordable networks and services are to be created while exploiting the growth potentials of a European digital economy. As an added bonus, consumers and retailers will be given better access to goods and services all throughout Europe.

In 2014, according to a study conducted by the European Commission, approximately 15 percent of consumers had at one time purchased goods online from abroad. Internationalization and digitalization of commerce are allowing consumers a much broader and more international choice of goods. In line with the political initiatives, retailers also aim to expand international online commerce. Businesses are not only focusing on delivery services within Europe, but they furthermore want to expand their marketing structures on a global scale. Several online retailers already deliver to consumers in destinations abroad – including those outside of Europe – and in turn, numerous international vendors, on Amazon Deutschland for instance, offer their products on the German marketplace as well.

In this research project, we aim to explore the two different actors, consumers and online-vendors, against the backdrop of the increasing internationalization of e-commerce:

  • Key factors that influence the cross-border online shopping habits of consumers are to be identified and examined. For this purpose a structural corelations model has been developed that illustrates in which specific areas various different factors influence cross-border online shopping behavior.
  • A comprehensive analysis of German online-vendors allows us to examine which internationalization strategies they are currently following. Internationalization in retail trade is among others visible in the redistribution or expansion of spheres of action to other countries. It is our goal to reveal the pattern of geographical expansion of German online-vendors, to examine which markets in particular are being served, and, based on these findings, to develop a model of internationalization of online retail trade.