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
|Fashion, clothing and accessories||71%||49%|
|Health and beauty products||54%||33%|
|Books, CDs and other physical media||46%||45%|
|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.
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:
cite enhanced delivery options as the most important attribute when deciding where to buy9
of U.S. online shoppers won’t purchase a product if they don’t know when it’ll arrive10
expect regular updates about their purchases10
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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
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
Localisation: Make sure your website is localised for the U.S. market – and, crucially, offers U.S. dollars as a currency option
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
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
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
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
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.
1 eCommerce United States, Statista
2 E-commerce in the United States – Statistics & Facts, Statista
3 Number of digital shoppers in the United States from 2016 to 2021 (in millions), Statista
4 Leading Vendors to the Top 100: Rankings, Data & Analysis of the Top Technology Providers Powering E-commerce Today, Internet Retailer
5 Leading product categories bought online amongst internet users in the United States as of November 2017, by gender, Statista
6 U.S. mobile retail commerce sales as percentage of retail e-commerce sales from 2017 to 2021, Statista
7 Influence of social media on purchasing decisions of consumers in the United States as of May 2018, Statista
8 CGS 2019 Consumer Sustainability Survey, CGS
9 The truth about online consumers: 2017 Global Online Consumer Report, KPMG
10 Consumer Report 2018: Connecting with shoppers in the age of choice, Narvar
11 The Millennial Shopping Report, Coupon Follow
12 Great(er) Expectations: The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Demands in eCommerce: Dotcom Distribution 2018 eCommerce study
13 Global Consumer Shopping Survey 2017, Accenture
14 Exporting to the United States, UK Government
15 Ecommerce in the US: the definitive guide, Webinterpret
* 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.