7 things you can do to help grow your global sales.

Feb 21 2020 | Melissa O'Malley, Global Director, PayPal

Understanding global shoppers’ buying preferences and pain-points is a must before you start selling internationally. 
In our fourth-annual global cross-border commerce report1, we surveyed more than 34,000 consumers across 31 countries and asked how and why they shop online both domestically and internationally. The insights we uncovered can help you understand which markets may have more selling potential than others; and things you can do to get ahead of your global competition.

Global consumer insights for selling internationally.

How can you identify and connect with more consumers who are willing to make purchases internationally?
  1. Focus on developing countries. E-commerce growth is making headway in developing countries. In countries like India, Argentina and the Philippines, consumers surveyed report significant increases in their online spending year-over-year – with 42 percent, 40 percent and 26 percent annual e-commerce growth rates in each country respectively.
  1. Optimize your website experience. International online shopping continues to increase at a rapid pace. Across the 31 countries surveyed, about 50 percent of consumers surveyed say they shop online internationally – led by 70 percent of Middle Eastern consumers and 62 percent of African consumers. In countries like Ireland, Austria and Israel, around 80 percent of shoppers polled say they make online purchases with international merchants annually. Clothing and footwear (68 percent), consumer electronics (53 percent) and toys (53 percent) are the most popular products purchased internationally.
  1. Don’t forget to optimize your mobile and tablet shopping experience too. Online purchasing is growing and approaching nearly half of all purchase volume in some of the world’s most populated countries. According to the survey, in China, 53 percent of purchases are made on a mobile or tablet, 48 percent in India and 45 percent in the U.S. With the exception of Eastern Europe, purchases on mobile and tablet devices make up 30 percent or more of total payment volume across the world.
  1. Offer competitive pricing. Businesses who compete on price or offer discounts to shoppers will have a better chance at winning globally. And keep in mind it’s not just about product cost; consumers look at pricing holistically. 25 percent say high delivery shipping costs would prevent them from making purchases from websites in another country, and 24 percent express similar concerns with paying customs duties, fees or taxes associated with the purchase. Merchants who transparently list all fees associated with a purchase up-front have a better chance of converting their international shoppers into buyers.
  1. Add unique products to your product mix. The second most cited reason consumers shop internationally is for the novelty of accessing items that are not available in their own country (49 percent) or to discover new and interesting products (34 percent). Over half of global consumers who shop from merchants in Norway, Mexico, Ireland and Canada do so for access to items not available in their country, and four-out-of-10 who shop from merchants in the Czech Republic, Israel and Brazil do so for new and interesting products. Merchants who offer unique products and have a clear SEO strategy in place to make products easy to search for will get ahead in these markets.
  1. Make local currency options available. 75 percent of global shoppers would prefer having an option to pay for their purchase in their local currency and 60 percent check conversion rates before making a purchase. Integrate with a global payments processing platform like PayPal so you can receive money in more than 100 currencies while letting your customers pay the way they want.
  1. Give consumers security and peace of mind. Making an international purchase (especially for the first time) can make consumers feel cautious, but you can help alleviate some of that concern. 44 percent in our survey said ‘a secure way to pay’ was a top consideration. Consumers want to make sure their order will get to them, and if in case anything is wrong with the order, that they can return it. PayPal offers both Purchase Protection for consumers and Seller Protection for merchants – that help secure eligible transactions for both parties.

PayPal Cross-Border Trade Consumer Research (July 2018)

PayPal in partnership with Ipsos, conducted a global 31 market survey with approximately 34,000 consumers to examine how people shop online and across borders. Click here to see the Hong Kong Report


Making simple tweaks to your website to address these consumer preferences can help businesses capture more international sales. If you are looking for specific insights by country, we’ve uploaded all of the data on the refreshed PayPal PassPort site
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

1On behalf of PayPal, Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample1 of c.1000-2000 (34,052 in total) adults (aged 18 or over) who use an internet enabled device in each of 31 countries (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Israel, UAE, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, India, China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Philippines)Interviews were conducted online between 13th March and 1st May 2018.

Data was weighted in all countries to adjust for panel bias based on external trend data on incidence of online shoppers in each country.

Frequently asked questions.

The PayPal Developer Centre (in English only) offers support for developers who have questions about technical topics, such as APIs, PayPal product integration, or testings. You can also find useful information on the PayPal Community Forum, or contact our technical support specialists on Merchant Technical Support.

Below is a list of common topics searched for by developers: 

Account Authentication
Information about validating your visitor's PayPal account.

Encrypted Website Payments
To make online payments more secure, you can make Encrypted Website Payment buttons that rely on standard public key encryption for protection.

Identity API
PayPal offers a secure commerce Identity API that lets your customers sign in to your web site using their PayPal credentials.

Instant Payment Notification
Instant Payment Notification is a message service that automatically notifies merchants of events related to PayPal transactions.

Merchants, developers, and business solution providers use Invoicing APIs to automate the creation, delivery, tracking, and reconciliation of invoices with an integrated payments solution.

Mobile SDK
Accept PayPal, credit cards and other payments methods through mobile apps.

Name-Value Pair (NVP) API
Information and support on name value pairs and NVP SDKs.

PayPal Checkout
PayPal Checkout gives your buyers a simplified and secure checkout experience that keeps them local to your website or mobile app throughout the payment process.

PayPal Sandbox Support
Information and support for users testing in the PayPal Sandbox environment.

PayPal Shopping Cart
The PayPal Shopping Cart system allows buyers to select multiple items on your website and pay for them with a single payment.

Permissions Service API
PayPal's permissions service enables you to request and obtain authorization to make API calls and take action on behalf of your customers.

The PayPal SOAP API is based on open standards known collectively as web services, which include the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Definition Language (WSDL), and the XML Schema Definition language (XSD).

Testing Your Apps in Sandbox
A guide for developers testing their apps in the PayPal Sandbox environment.

Virtual Terminal
Information about PayPal's Virtual Terminal - a web-based application that processes credit and debit cards, replacing swipe machines.

Website Payments Pro
PayPal's Website Payments Pro is an API-based solution that enables merchants and developers to accept credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal payments directly on their website.
Website Payments Standard
You can accept credit cards online easily and offers a streamlined checkout experience to customers using mobile devices.
Each PayPal account has an unique merchant account ID. When you create a payment button, you can choose to display your merchant account ID instead of your primary email address. This way your email address won't be visible to spammers.

Here's how to find your merchant account ID:
  1. Go to Account Settings.
  2. Click Business information under "Business Profile" on the left of the page.
  3. Find your merchant account ID in the "PayPal Merchant ID" section.
Here are two ways to apply your merchant account ID in a payment button:
  • Copy your ID and paste it in to your PayPal button code.
  • Open your payment button in the saved button list, and select your merchant account ID in the editing page.
When a payment is on hold, the money you've received for this transaction is in your PayPal account but temporarily not available for use. Delaying funds availability is a common industry practice we implement to maintain a safer PayPal network for both buyers and sellers. By placing the payments on hold, we want to make sure that there's enough money in your PayPal account to resolve any issues that may arise with your transactions, such as chargebacks or disputes.

We'll email you if a payment you received is on hold. You can also check the payment status anytime on your Activity page.

Here are some common reasons why a payment may be temporarily unavailable:
  • You’re a new seller with PayPal, or you’re an established seller but have opened a new account. It takes time to build up enough history of successful transactions.
  • You haven’t sold in a while. Previously inactive accounts may be subject to payment holds while rebuilding a positive selling history.
  • You receive a large number of reversals, disputes, or chargebacks. We suggest that you communicate with your customers often and work with them to resolve any concerns. If your customer filed a dispute or chargeback because someone illegally used their PayPal account to make the transaction, please hold off on shipping any items.
  • Your selling pattern has changed. For example, the sales volume increases abnormally, or there’s a change in your average selling price, business platform, or type of item being sold.
  • The transaction involves higher-risk items, including tickets, gift cards, consumer electronics, computers, and travel packages.
When can I access the payment that's on hold?
If there aren’t any issues with your transaction or account, the payment will typically be available to you within 21 days after receipt (the money may not be released until later in the day). You may also get your payment sooner if you fulfil the order faster and update the order status in the transaction details. If a dispute or claim has been filed on the payment, the money will be held until the case is resolved.

Note: Payment holds on eBay sales are different from regular PayPal payment holds. You can learn more about eBay payment holds and contact eBay for assistance.

For more details regarding different types of payment hold, please view our User Agreement.
You may have entered into a Billing Agreement with PayPal allowing this merchant to deduct funds from your PayPal account.
To see which Billing Agreements are in effect for your PayPal account:
  1. Go to Account Settings.
  2. Click Money, banks and cards under "Business Profile" on the left of the page.
  3. Click Set Automatic Payments beside "Automatic payments".
Note: If you didn't enter into an agreement and believe this is an unauthorised activity, please report it in the Resolution Centre.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. The information in this article does not constitute legal, financial, IT, business or investment advice of any kind and is not a substitute for any professional advice. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, IT and legal advice before making any business decision.