US customers shopping on UK sites are a significant and largely unexplored online retail audience. Whilst they’re a relatively small base (about 4% of total visits), they’re disproportionately valuable, spending around 3.88 times more than the average UK customers. Based on current stats that’s a market size of around £11bn per annum, which is a significant opportunity by any measurement.

Behaviourally, this group are relatively distinct. For one, they visit at different hours from the UK norm (unsurprisingly given time zone differences). Whilst UK online shopping peaks at around 6.00pm, the US peak on UK sites is at 3.00am and is at its lowest at midday. Also, whilst UK shoppers peak on a Sunday, Friday seems to be the big day for the US. They are also a relatively homogenous group geographically, with the top 10 locations being dominated by the East and West coasts, particularly San Francisco and New York.

The challenge with this group is that they’re relatively poorly converting – whilst they make up 4.12% of total traffic they only make up 0.68% of total conversions. The question is, what can a UK site do to improve their offer, and therefore their conversions, amongst this valuable audience?

  • Geo-personalisation – One of the most obvious things you can do is to present US customers with an appropriately messaged site. For example, at a national level it makes sense to present US customers with relevant sizing information or details about local stores. It’s also important to think about city-level differences – purchasing intentions and outcomes will be very different in Manhattan and LA (see TopShop example below).
  • Weather – The current ‘Polar Vortex’ that’s impacting much of the Eastern US is a great example of how weather can impact on buying habits. Savvy retailers are promoting offers on winter clothing and products to tap into weather-related purchasing habits.

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Top shop taps into city level insight and weather information to target its messaging to customers on its blog

  • Seasonal differences – It’s important to be culturally relevant and, if you want to tap into US buyers, you need to be aware of relevant events and trends. For example, ‘Black Friday’ is a far bigger event in the US than in the UK and various US-specific national holidays can significantly impact on shopping trends.
  • Shipping information – Fulfilment can be one of the biggest reasons for customers to not convert even in a domestic market and can be an even bigger issue for overseas shipping. Make sure that your overseas delivery times and costs are clearly displayed, along with relevant information about your returns policy for overseas customers. J.Crew’s messaging layer showing information about shipping and returns is a great example of this in action.

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J.Crew’s website showing shipping messaging layer

Data:
Visitors by location:

City

Percentage of total visitors

Percentage of US population

san francisco

6.22%

0.26%

new york

6.15%

2.67%

los angeles

3.77%

1.23%

redmond

3.42%

0.02%

mountain view

3.3%

0.02%

ashburn

3.09%

0.01%

brooklyn

2.55%

0.00%

chicago

1.67%

0.86%

scottsdale

1.36%

0.07%

san jose

1.3%

0.31%

ian-mccaig-portion-by-day
ian-mccaig-by-week

Ian McCaig headshotIan leads all product marketing, communications and business operations at Qubit. Before Qubit Ian worked at Google for just under 5 years and in that time gained experience in marketing, product and sales development. Most recently Ian led Google’s business marketing team in the UK, helping customers and agencies understand how to get the most out of Google’s solutions such as Adwords, YouTube, Google Analytics and Google’s suite of insight tools. Previous to that Ian led the monetization of the Google Content Network across EMEA and helped develop the UK & Benelux sales strategy which went on to shape the global thinking about search. Prior to Google Ian worked in the Music Industry and for a leading FMCG company. Ian graduated from Bath University with a degree in Business Management.

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