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The American Way Of Ecommerce (And The British Way, The Brazilian Way…)

Digital giant Razorfish just conducted a massive study of ecommerce around the world. Here’s what they learned.

The American Way Of Ecommerce (And The British Way, The Brazilian Way…)
[Photo: imagedepotpro, Getty Images]

When Razorfish, one of the world’s biggest digital agencies, surveyed more than 1600 global Internet users about their relationships to brands, they were expecting to see generation gaps and a growing fondness for ecommerce. But they found something even more fascinating: New and distinct styles of ecommerce popping up in Brazil and China.

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In surveys conducted with the University of Southern California’s Center for the Digital Future, the company uncovered an unusual trend. Because Internet and mobile use is accelerating so rapidly among China and Brazil’s rich and middle classes, ecommerce has a novelty factor in those markets that it doesn’t have in the United States or Western Europe. And, interestingly, that international customers want to use their mobile phones to purchase every single item for their daily lives.

According to Razorfish’s Grant Owens, “We wanted to get a handle on how much digital is impacting our lives. Our hypothesis is customers will be much more loyal to great digital experiences and getting digital experiences right is what will attract users in the future. Uber and Seamless are great examples of this.” He added that the study focused on four markets Razorfish works in: The United States, Great Britain, China, and Brazil.

While habits in the United States and Great Britain are largely similar when it comes to customer-brand relationships, use of ecommerce, and newfangled habits like taking out smartphones to access coupons inside retail stores, habits diverge sharply when it comes to Brazil and China. Bluntly put, because widespread Internet use there is still relatively new, many of the most enthusiastic digital addicts skew older than in Anglophone countries… and they demand much more of their digital experiences.

Razorfish’s chief marketing officer, William Lidstone, told Fast Company that “80% of the Chinese customers and 74% of Brazilians we surveyed want to do all of their shopping online, which I thought was fascinating.” Other insights include the fact that Chinese customers are twice as likely to read news websites, stream movies or shows, and read online reviews than Anglophone customers, and that attitudes towards tech adoption were consistent among younger and older respondents–the exact opposite of the generation gap Razorfish saw in the US and UK.

In terms of the world at large, the Razorfish survey notes that mobile technologies now dominate both the online and offline shopping experience for millennials in all four countries, that younger users are less likely to see brands as intruding on their privacy (and to view targeted advertising as helpful rather than as a personal intrusion), and that mobile payments are expected to skyrocket in use at retailers and elsewhere.