FedEx van in US street at night

Spotlight on...
the U.S.

Spotlight on...
the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: The information provided in this website does not constitute legal, tax, finance, accounting or trade advice, but is designed to provide general information relating to business and commerce. This content, information, and these services are not a substitute for obtaining the advice of a competent professional, for example a licensed attorney, law firm, accountant, or financial adviser.

Looking to expand your business to the U.S.? As the world’s largest economy and a major player in the field of online retail, the U.S. is full of potential when it comes to growing your e-commerce store. And we can help you make the most of it. 

Why the U.S.?

E-commerce in the U.S. has seen phenomenal growth in recent years, and this looks set to continue.

11.6% – the expected annual growth rate of U.S. e-commerce revenue during 2019-20231

$501bn – value of U.S. retail e-commerce sales in 20182

230.5m – the number of online shoppers predicted in the U.S. in 20213

$103.1bn – the size of the U.S. e-commerce market’s largest segment –fashion – in 20191

68.6m – the number of U.S. cross-border buyers expected in 2022, up from 53m in 20174


Which products are the most popular?

This graph shows the leading products purchased online by U.S. consumers during the three-month period leading up to November 2017.5

  Females Males
Fashion, clothing and accessories 71% 49%
Health and beauty products 54% 33%
Books, CDs and other physical media 46% 45%
Technology products 31% 49%
Home and furniture 31% 28%

U.S. internet users are passionate about online shopping and regularly make purchases across a variety of sectors. Your challenge? Standing out against all the other domestic and overseas online retailers fighting to attract the same consumers. 

But that’s where a better understanding of the consumers themselves comes in.


Getting to know U.S. online consumers

Understanding the behaviour and preferences of U.S. online shoppers could set your e-commerce business apart. So, what do you need to know?

Mobile commerce is becoming increasingly common…
In 2021, 54% of all retail e-commerce is set to be generated by mobile platforms.6

…as is e-commerce influenced by social media platforms
48% of U.S. online shoppers have purchased products or services discovered through social media.7

Quality can make consumers more loyal…
While U.S. shoppers are often price-sensitive, 64% say better quality is more likely to make them loyal to a brand.8

…but sustainability is also a top priority
1 in 3 U.S. online shoppers are willing to pay 25% more for sustainable products.8

What does this mean for your business?
Make sure your e-commerce site is optimised for all channels – mobile and desktop – and fully responsive. When talking about your brand in email communications or marketing, shout about any qualities that set you apart, such as sustainable packaging or materials.

Woman working on her laptop in the kitchen

U.S. online shoppers and delivery

Online shoppers in the U.S. have high expectations when it comes to fulfilment – these stats say it all: 

43%
cite enhanced delivery options as the most important attribute when deciding where to buy9

53%
of U.S. online shoppers won’t purchase a product if they don’t know when it’ll arrive10

83%
expect regular updates about their purchases10

40%
would be more likely to shop online if next-day shipping was an option10

What does this mean for your business?

Your e-commerce fulfilment strategy could make or break your relationship with your U.S. customers. Offer them more convenient deliveries by taking advantage of our 14,000+ package pickup points across the country, provide a selection of delivery options, and keep them up to speed with our regular notifications on the progress of their shipments.


Winning over Millennials and Gen Z shoppers

Millennials are more likely than any other group in the U.S. to buy internationally, while Gen Z are the nation’s most active online shoppers.9 So, it’s fair to say these two demographics should be key targets in your e-commerce growth strategy.

e-commerce website

Millennials

  • There was a 20% increase in mobile shopping amongst Millennials in the 18 months leading up to January 201911
     
  • Millennials are cost-conscious, with 55% spending at least 3 minutes looking for discounts or savings while shopping online11
     
  • Reliable, timely delivery is crucial for Millennials, with 79% less likely to recommend a brand that delays delivery12

Gen Z

  • 2 in 3 Gen Z shoppers are interested in making purchases directly from social media13
     
  • This group is more likely than Millennials to pay for faster delivery13
     
  • Over 40% of Gen Z shoppers buy more than half of their clothing and consumer electronics online13
Two girls buying clothes online

What does this mean for your business?

If you’re not already, market your products on social media platforms. Make sure your customers can choose next-day delivery services as Gen Z shoppers in particular are happy to pay more for this, and provide a range of delivery options to choose from.

State shipping and handling charges as early as possible in the shopping journey, and make sure this information is clear throughout.


Taking your business to the U.S. – need-to-know

When it comes to actually doing business in the U.S., you’ll need to get to grips with the different processes and admin that’s required. 

Customs procedures

The U.S. is known for being incredibly careful when it comes to border control. Ensure your goods get through customs quickly by filling out all documentation correctly, and providing all required details about your shipments.

At FedEx, we have customs tools that make getting through customs faster and easier. Receive support with essential tasks such as preparing shipping documentation and paying duties and taxes.

Duties and tax

Your goods will be subject to duties on arrival in the U.S. You can find details about what those rates could be on the U.S. International Trade Database website. In the U.S. taxes can be imposed on goods both by the U.S. government and individual states, countries and cities.14 There is no Value Added Tax (VAT) in the U.S., only Sales tax, which varies from state to state.

In 2016, the U.S. raised its de minimis (the threshold below which goods are duty and tax-free) from $200 to $800. This is great for your e-commerce business, as it could mean fewer charges on your goods, depending on the value of the shipments you send to the U.S.

Mobile tracking

Restrictions on goods

Make sure your goods are actually allowed into the U.S., and comply with legal regulations. You may also need a licence for certain goods. A full list of prohibited and restricted items is available on the U.S. Customs & Border Protection website.

Certain goods (for example, some foods and cosmetics) may also need to meet U.S. specific packaging and labelling requirements. More information on this is available on the U.S. Small Business Administration website. You can also get advice on all things related to U.S. customs by using our FedEx Trade Services.

Fast, reliable shipping to the U.S. with FedEx

Reach the U.S. quicker than before with our FedEx International Priority® express parcel delivery services. For less time-sensitive shipments, choose our FedEx International Economy® services.

We’ve increased our capacity to offer you:

  • Next-day delivery to the U.S. as early as 10.30 a.m.*
  • More flights from Europe to the U.S. than any other express carrier
  • More than 14,000 pick-up locations, with 90% of U.S. residents within 5 miles of a FedEx retail point

Top tips for success

Laptop

Localisation: Make sure your website is localised for the U.S. market – and, crucially, offers U.S. dollars as a currency option

International

Payment methods: Offer a wide range of payment options to your U.S. consumers. While credit card is still the most popular payment option (used by 73% of adult shoppers), 59% frequently make payments digitally (e.g. on mobile wallets)15

International

Flexible delivery options: Stand out from your competitors – for example, with proactive notifications and by giving your customers the chance to choose their delivery location/time. Our FedEx® Delivery Manager tool offers delivery options to your U.S. customers for every situation and need

International

Promotions and coupons: These have particular appeal for bargain-loving U.S. consumers. Emailing them out as part of an introductory offer could be a great way to raise awareness of your e-commerce store

International

Making contacts: When you enter a new market, having some support from a local e-commerce business can be helpful for picking up tips and tricks

International

Meeting seasonal demand: U.S. online shopping soars during the festive period and events such as Black Friday, so make sure you’ve got enough stock and your supply chain is prepared for higher volumes of orders


Taking your e-commerce business to the U.S. is a big, but exciting, step. Armed with handy tips and supported by our e-commerce services and solutions, we hope you find success in this thriving market.


* Transit times and services may vary depending on shipment type, exact origin and destination location. Transit times are expressed in working days. Terms and conditions apply – visit fedex.com for full details of our services. Check service availability with our Customer Service.