Five Fast Facts: The Australian Vs American Consumer

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The pandemic has changed global consumer dynamics, perhaps forever. But that doesn’t mean everyone has changed in the same way or to the same degree. And, in fact, as PYMNTS has surveyed consumers worldwide over the course of the pandemic, those differences are snapping increasingly into focus.

The PYMNTS Global Shopping Index series examines four key markets: Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the U.S. The most recent addition zeroed in on Australia and how it compares and contrasts to the U.S. market. And while it’s fair to say that both markets have responded in broadly similar ways — with consumers doubling down on digital and merchants rushing to meet them — the details of the digital dive are different in key ways. The top five of which we’ve outlined below.

1. Australians Have A Deeper Affinity For Instore Shopping Than Americans

While a preference for physical shopping has managed to hold sway with the majority of consumers in the U.S and Australia — the pull in Australia is notably strong — PYMNTS data finds that 67.1 percent of the Australians have continued to prefer in-store shopping since the pandemic began, while just 56 percent of U.S. consumers share that preference.

Notably, Australians went into the pandemic with a stronger preference for physical retail than their American counterparts, with 71.4 percent of Australians reporting a preference for brick-and-mortar shopping before the pandemic, while 15.4 percent preferred online channels and 9.3 percent opted for cross-channel shopping. And it seems that thus far, brick-and-mortar’s hit down under has been online’s gain — as the online native group grew by 24 percent since the pandemic’s start and now accounts for 19 percent of consumers. The use of mobile-centered shopping channels has fallen considerably, which may reflect that consumers have been home much more than usual and have had ready access to their computers.

2. Australian Consumers Prefer In-store Pickup; While Americans Prefer Curbside Pickup

Given Australians greater preference for in-store commerce than their American counterparts, it is perhaps not surprising that their cross-channel shopping preferences have developed somewhat differently. Australians are less averse to going into stores when doing cross-channel shopping than Americans are, according to the data. More than one-quarter of Australian digital shoppers use in-store pickup — nearly twice the share of U.S. consumers, who tend to prefer curbside pickup. This preference, however, is also likely influenced by availability. The practice of curbside pickup is more developed in the U.S. than it is in Australia, while in-store, commonly known locally as “click and collect,” is gaining traction.

3. American Consumers Place Top Priority On Free-Shipping; Australians Care More About Rewards

When placing value on the digital features that mean most to them, Australians clearly diverge from Americans yet again. In Australia, rewards top the list by a wide margin among consumer preferences, with 20.3 percent citing it as their top priority. Free shipping does make the list one spot down in the number two spot — but it is a pretty wide separation as only 10.2 percent name it as a top priority.

On the other hand, Americans name free shipping is the most important digital feature, with rewards falling further down on the list in the third spot. The data indicates Australian consumers are not only looking for digital features that allow them to avoid in-store shopping (something they are clearly much less worried about) but for those that can make the experience more satisfying and rewarding.

4. Australian Consumers Are Dedicated Debit Users; Americans Favor Credit

When it comes to showing variety at the point of sale when it comes to payment methods to use, Australians tend to be more varied than their American counterparts. Significant shares of Australians use debit, credit and cash to pay. Still, a debit card is the most common payment method to pay in-store in Australia, used by 30 percent of consumers, followed by credit cards (22.8 percent) and cash (20.6 percent). Meanwhile, just 14.6 percent of Americans use cash, and credit cards are their most used payment method in stores at 37.3 percent.

5. Australian Consumers Are More Likely To Leverage Contactless Payments

Consumers in Australia are also almost three times more likely than those in America to use contactless payments: 10.8 percent of the former use them with debit cards versus 2.4 percent of the latter. This circumstance likely reflects the greater availability of contactless payment technology in cards and terminals in Australia.

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