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Poles Wary of Foreign Online Shops Despite Potential Benefits, UCE RESEARCH Study Finds

COMMERCEPoles Wary of Foreign Online Shops Despite Potential Benefits, UCE RESEARCH Study Finds

According to the latest survey, a total of 33.2% of regular online consumers make purchases from foreign e-shops. However, only 10.2% of them constantly do such shopping, and 10.9% don’t practice it very often. Meanwhile, 12.1% admit that they very rarely take advantage of this opportunity. Furthermore, 1.9% of respondents can’t recall whether they do this. The largest group of respondents (64.9%) never shop in such stores, primarily due to concerns about a potential return process. They also cite language barriers and long product delivery times as reasons. They often claim they fear high shipping costs and difficulties related to post-purchase service. On the other hand, the least discouraging factors include complicated delivery tracking, concern about counterfeit goods, and lack of trust in foreign entities.

The UCE RESEARCH survey reveals that 33.2% of consumers regularly buying products online make purchases in foreign e-shops. Among them, 10.2% do so very frequently, 10.9% – not very often, and 12.1% – hardly ever. – “Only every third respondent declares that they buy from foreign e-shops at least from time to time. This clearly shows that there is significant potential for growth in international e-commerce. However, it is also clear that Poles are still wary of foreign purchases, albeit – in my opinion – not quite deservedly so. They lose many good opportunities, provided they follow the rules of common sense,” says Maciej Tygielski, the study’s co-author and a longtime observer and expert on the e-commerce market.

The expert also emphasizes that in some EU countries, due to a smaller domestic market or higher trust in foreign e-shops, the percentage of consumers often shopping in them may be higher. – “Evaluating the results, it is worth emphasizing that openness to foreign e-commerce depends on many factors, including the availability of local alternatives offering similar products or better conditions,” adds the study’s co-author.

Additionally, the study showed that 64.9% of shoppers never make purchases in foreign e-shops. Meanwhile, 1.9% of consumers can’t remember if they buy anything in such stores. – “The fact that two out of three respondents don’t make such purchases might indicate the existence of certain barriers – cultural, linguistic or economic – impeding greater openness to international e-commerce. In some cases, it may also be about prejudices against quality, e.g., products from China, which are heavily promoted in Poland, especially on social media. However, their quality leaves a lot to be desired. And consumers – in majority – see that,” claims Maciej Tygielski.

Analysts from UCE RESEARCH believe that in many cases a significant limitation may be the lack of awareness about the possibilities of shopping abroad or low trust in unfamiliar, even by name, sellers. Security of the transaction itself might raise concerns. In addition, reluctance may result from the complexity of the return or complaint process. Add to this the language barrier, and we have the whole range of the most significant problems, which – in consumers’ assessment – might be insurmountable.

The percentage of customers not making purchases in foreign e-shops may change over the next few years depending on several factors. These include the development of logistics infrastructure and changes in customs regulations. In addition, consumers’ awareness of buyers’ rights in the EU, which is still lacking, should also be improved. On one hand, increasing globalization and facilitations in international trade can contribute to an increase in purchases in foreign e-shops. On the other hand, a strong local e-commerce and an improved offer can keep consumers with domestic purchases. Without interventions aimed at reducing barriers, the percentage of nearly 65% may remain stable or change very slowly – predicts the e-commerce market expert.

Survey participants who don’t shop in foreign e-shops indicated 5 main reasons for not doing so. It appears from their answers that the most common concern is a potential return of goods (36.7%), the language barrier issue (33.4%), and a long waiting time for the product (29.4%). Furthermore, consumers fear high shipping costs (20.8%), as well as after-sales service (18.4%).

“These reasons are directly related to the risk and uncertainty associated with such purchases. The return process may be complicated or expensive, especially in the case of international shipments. The language barrier makes it difficult to understand the product description, purchase conditions or complaint process. Long waiting times and high delivery costs can be demotivating, especially when local e-shops offer faster and more reliable shipping. Concerns about after-sales service are associated with difficulties in communication and potential problems in dispute resolution. These reasons are crucial because they directly affect customer satisfaction and experience,” says Tygielski.

The least often reason cited for not shopping in foreign e-shops is difficulties in tracking shipments (4.7%). Quite rarely consumers also point to the fear of counterfeit goods (7.1%), as well as a lack of trust in foreign entities (9.2%).

“These reasons can be seen as less important because they concern aspects that are either rare or easier to verify before purchase. Difficulties in tracking can be less problematic thanks to developing technologies and services. Concerns about counterfeit goods may be smaller when buying from trusted, reputable foreign shops. Mistrust of foreign entities may be an individual matter or depend on specific experiences, but it is not a universal barrier for all consumers. As globalization increases and trust in international e-commerce grows, these fears may become even less significant,” concludes Maciej Tygielski.

Research Methodology

The study was conducted using the CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) method by UCE RESEARCH on a sample of 1007 adult Poles who regularly (i.e., at least a few times per month) make all kinds of online purchases.

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