The Coming Globalization of Online Shopping


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Consumers are not only shopping more online, they’re also traveling further virtually. Where the conventional wisdom has been “online stores don’t ship abroad,” increasingly, e-commerce sites are offering free or low-cost international shipping, making it easier than ever to buy and sell from all over the planet.

On Thursday, mega e-tailer Shopbop.com announced “Shopbop Global,” offering free international shipping in three days or less, and “faster customs clearance with import fees deposit and traceable delivery.”

Shopbop is following other big Internet retailers in this move. Overstock.com lets customers from over 90 countries order from their site; fast-fashion phenomenon Asos ships to a laundry list of countries; and Gap is now shipping to 55 countries with plans to add more.

We predict that soon most major online retailers will also begin offering free international shipping and returns. Currently, free shipping ranks with best price as one of the top motivators among online shoppers. Asos certainly gets it — the online-only British retailer recently introduced free shipping and returns for U.S. customers, and a spokesperson for the company says their growth stateside has been “exceptionally large” ever since.