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Domestic and Preferred Card Schemes

Digital payments are already 12% of consumer retail spending. As with the online market in the UK, credit and debit cards make up the mainstay of online payments in the US.These represent 45% of all e-payments.[1]

75% Visa/MasterCard, 8% American Express, 2% Discover [2]

More traditional payment types, such as cards, are looking to become more ‘digital’ in their form factor and avoid the ‘hassle’ of customers having to add their card details on a small digital device.[3]

Alternative Payment Methods

PayPal has considerable market share at 15%.

As with other markets, there is an ever-expanding list of payment innovators looking to disrupt the market. The biggest driver behind these is the rise of mobile technology and the ‘always-on’ shopping opportunities that multiple devices bring. There is also an increasing crossover between digital and physical channels where ‘pure-play’ digital payment methods are looking to become more relevant in the physical retailing world.

Some examples: Amazon Payments, PayPal Credit (formerly Bill Me Later), Google Wallet, MasterCard MasterPass, PayItSimple, PayPal, Skrill, Visa Checkout

As in most markets, these ‘alternatives’ are gaining momentum in the US but choosing which ones to accept should be based on expected customer usage and insight; dependent on the merchant’s brand, not what the overall market is doing.[4]

Other Payment Methods

Cash or cheque, Bank Transfer, Prepaid card, Other money transfer e.g. Western Union, Prepaid Voucher, Secure Vault, Click & Buy[5]

Digital Invoicing


Customer Experience

US customers are generally happy with the local retail experience, both online and offline. Figures from the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Survey (2015) showed that 62% of those questioned were happy with the in-store experience while 83% said the same about online. However, the online picture was varied and satisfaction depended on device. The ‘traditional’ desktop experience was felt satisfactory by 84% of those surveyed while 75% said the same about tablet and only 65% about smartphone interactions. The main issues cited were screen size, size of imagery and security concerns. From a digital perspective, customers are particularly concerned with the availability of support information. For example, 66% of the shoppers surveyed said that they were happy with the availability and clarity of information relating to returns. Furthermore, 59% of shoppers were satisfied with the ease of finding a retailer’s customer service phone or contact option via the website. 44% were satisfied with the ability to find a retailer’s live chat option, and 43% were satisfied with access to live chat within the checkout experience. The last two points around live chat have some way to go and the various contact points are even more important for a foreign business looking to trade into a territory; they all provide potential consumers with confidence in the brand.[6]

Customer Service

Customer service begins during the purchase process. Insight from Forrester shows that 55% of US online users will abandon their purchase if they cannot easily find answers to queries. 77% also say that signs the merchants value their time is the most important indicator of good customer service. By way of contrast, 89% of consumers have stopped using a merchant after a poor customer service experience. Interestingly, the interactions reported in this survey also reflect customer preferences, with telephone being the preferred contact point for 36% of respondents, live chat for 33% and email at 25%. The mainstay of early ‘pure-play’ customer support, the self-help online portal, scored badly at 5% while social media channels were only preferred by 2% of the multichannel customers surveyed.

Telephone might be the most popular communications channel for customer support but response times must be fast. Only 18% of customers are prepared to hold for more than 10 minutes and 43% were only prepared to wait 1-5 minutes. Merchants looking to trade into the US could be advised to look at the types and levels of customer service offered by incumbents in the market. Foreign merchants could still look at providing email customer support, as this is still widely accepted. To add a competitive edge, it could also be worth outsourcing telephone based customer service. There are a number of providers who now offer a ‘follow the sun’ service so that your brand is ready whereever your customer is based.[7]

Digital Coupons

Customer acquisition and retention strategies can be very similar globally. However, the American retail market has long been known to be dominated by vouchers and coupons as a promotional tool. Some consumers are avid collectors and users of vouchers and according to, 37% of surveyed shoppers want all coupons to be digital. Not only are vouchers / coupons widely available, 93% of shoppers surveyed about their couponing use said that they use coupons at 93% of their transactions. To set some context, 55% of US internet users use coupons. As a promotional tool they certainly have their place and distribution can be achieved via a number of focused voucher websites.

Where mobile devices meet digital couponing, women are more engaged than men when using applications for ‘voucher’ sites. King Retail Solutions report that 14% of US female smartphone owners use the Groupon app versus 9% of men, 9% use the RetailMeNot app and 4% use the LivingSocial app. Only 1% of the men surveyed used the latter two. Not all vouchers have the same impact and there are regional differences to take into account. According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study (2015) 61% of respondents in the US wanted a free product / gift certificate / cashback offer based on frequent purchases. Product discounts came in second at 58% and free shipping a close third at 57%.[8]

Payments Regulation

It is expected that the introduction of EMV-enabled cards will see attempted fraud move online. Using ‘Chip-and Pin’ or EMV enabled cards at point of purchase makes it much easier for the retailer to stop transactions from stolen cards. Raising this barrier in the physical environment has seen card fraud migrate online.[9]

Local entities

There are also a number of US-based acquiring banks. For example: First Data, Chase Paymentech, Vantiv, Elavon, Global Payments, Heartland, WorldPay, TSYS, BA Merchant Services, Citi Merchant Services and Wells Fargo.[10]

Mobile payments

Visa Inc’s 2015 digital commerce study found that 37% of consumers questioned were not making purchases via a mobile device due to security concerns. 21% didn’t make a purchase via a mobile device because they didn’t know if their usual merchant accepted card payments via mobile. Clear communciations around processes and protection will go some way to assuaging these fears.[11]


According to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of FedEx (2014), 76% of US online shoppers have made a purchase from a merchant outside of their territory. Figures reported by showed that in 2013, 34.1 million cross-border online shoppers would buy $40.6bn worth of goods growing to 41.8 million buying $80.2bn by 2018. US online consumers primarily shopped with the UK (49%), China (39%), Canada (34%), Hong Kong (20%) and Australia (18%).

The geographical spread of the population centres also adds its own challenges. Many of the global carriers have big operations in the US, offering competitive services to importing businesses and a consumer base that is prepared to wait six days for a paid-for delivery. While click & collect services will not be an option for most importers, using locker boxes or drop-off points is gaining in popularity. It will be no surprise that 56% of customers respond to a ‘free delivery’ offer and there is a general expectation that delivery costs are clearly communicated early on in the shopping process. Carriers offering a ‘fully-landed’ price ensure that customers know exactly what the cost to them is so there is no surprise at the door step. Likewise, for the business, carriers offering ‘wheels-up’ customs clearance provides surety around cost and process; the customer will get their order promptly, rather than it being held up waiting for clearance.[12]


There are ecommerce fulfilment specialists, such as Newgistics, which can help retailers ‘zone skip’ their customer parcels to inject into parcel networks closer to the delivery destination. There are also companies who create a national coverage network by contracting with regional carriers who could provide an import gateway with the necessary controls. XPO Logistics is an example of one such integrated service provider using 3rd party final mile contractors to provide a range of delivery services (supported by pre-delivery alert, tracking etc) including:

• Heavy goods – including installation, removal and clean up

• Courier – legal, accounting, luxury retail

• Ecommerce – direct to consumer with options as fast as next day / same day

These sorts of organisation certainly become an option when a retailer reaches the point where they wish to consider holding inventory and handling returns ‘in country’. However, for the most part retailers seeking entry into the US market for the first time will find that there are effectively five ways in which non-domestic retailers can access the US delivery market.

As one would imagine, the US market presents some very real logistics challenges – largely due to its size and scale across a number of dimensions:

• A population of 320 million within 134 million households and 84% of the population active online

• A physical geographical area of 3.5 million square miles and coast to coast line haul distances of up to 3,200 miles

• Four time zones so that the concept of same day / next day takes on a whole new meaning

• The different view of home delivery with click & collect still in its infancy

As a result, B2C home delivery in the US is dominated by companies able to create an infrastructure able to reach all, or the majority of consumers – notably the domestic postal service and the biggest global carriers:

• The United States Postal Service – USPS • United Parcel Service – UPS

• Federal Express – Fed Ex


There are of course regional carriers covering specific cities, states or multi-state areas but these may be harder to directly access for any non-US based retailer.[13]

Domestic Carriers

Domestic carriers will accept online retail orders and ship them to the US to be handed to local agents for delivery, often the four companies mentioned above. Service times will vary depending on the line haul arrangements in place and the US service partner chosen. Retailers already having a service contract with a domestic retailer should start by finding out what options they provide and can use this as a benchmark.[14]

Parcel brokers

Parcel brokers provide a way of accessing better pre-contract rates through global and domestic carriers and, in the UK for example, companies such as Parcel2Go and Parcel Monkey provide this channel.[15]

Direct access

Increasingly this solution is being used to consolidate volumes to achieve better air transport rates and provide a managed service that includes:

• Customs clearance – often ‘wheels up’ in advance of arrival

• Multiple points of entry – reducing ‘in country’ line haul costs and lead times

• Calculation and payment of duties

• HTS (Harmonised Tariff Schedule) code classification

• Tracked returns – for unwanted and undeliverable

There are a number of companies providing such services but perhaps the fore-runner is wnDirect, currently providing services to the US from France, Germany and China and directly into the US from the UK through LAX (Los Angles) and JFK (New York). wnDirect also ‘zone skips’ to ORD (Chicago), DFW (Dallas) and ATL(Atlanta) to provide further savings in time wnDirect arrange the end-to-end process – from collection in the UK, optimum routing and shipping, to clearance, tracking, delivery, customer service support, returns and performance reporting. In all cases delivery time estimates are dependent on successful first-time clearance through customs, the final destination and where the goods enter the country. It is therefore important to consider how orders will be transported from the country of dispatch and how the necessary clearances will be obtained.

Weight and dimension restrictions may also apply by service so these need to be checked in advance, as do any prohibitions on products that can be sent. Contract rates and terms will be available for all of the logistics options above but retailers with smaller cross- border volumes may initially be restricted to postal or public rate card or parcel broker options because most contracts will require a minimum volume.[16]


Retailers with a reasonable volume of orders going to the US may wish to consider the option of parcel management service integrators who can provide immediate integration with a wide range of service providers delivering in the US market. These will include most of the options above (excluding parcel brokers) and many others. The retailer will need to have or enter into a contract with the service provider but then the integrator will offer the ability to allocate orders to the most appropriate service – using agreed business rules, printing labels and customs documentation, providing tracking and helping to manage returns. For smaller retailers some integrators offer a parcel broker option that can help obtain better rates. In the UK providers of such services include MetaPack, Electio and Hypaship’s Parcelworks.[17]

Consumer Delivery Requirements

When a retailer is deciding on the delivery offer to provide it is important to consider the needs and wants of US online shoppers and to recognise that any importing retailer is competing with domestic retailers already providing such services. Perhaps the most relevant information to help understand this area is provided by the logistics company UPS – with its Pulse of the Online Shopper research1. The good news from this research is that 4 out of 10 shoppers are happy to buy from international retailers. The important things to note for these customers are here:

• US shoppers appreciate ‘free’ shipping (or at least the appearance of):

– 54% are likely to take advantage of an email offer that involves free shipping

– 40% have searched online for a free shipping promotion code

– 52% have added items to their basket to qualify for free shipping while 45% abandoned their cart when their order did not qualify for free shipping

• However, perhaps more important is to be up front about shipping costs3:

– 59% consider it important to see shipping costs early in the process

– 56% have abandoned their cart when the later addition of shipping costs made the order more expensive than expected, yet;

– 57% have decided to pay the extra for shipping when the order still represents good value

» 49% think that international retailers offer better prices

» 43% can find things they cannot get from US retailers

• An increasingly popular means of reducing or avoiding shipping costs is ‘collect from store’ with an increase of 8.5% in the proportion of shoppers who have used this over the previous 12 months – at 38%, up from 35% Clearly this option is not available for an importing retailer with no store presence but non-store click & collect or ‘curb side’ pick-up and returns is finding favour with a third of UPS survey respondents and these networks are becoming available to non-US retailers. Given the importance of this opportunity it is covered in more detail a little later.[18]

More good news for non-US retailers is that, despite the hype about same day delivery, the majority of US shoppers are prepared to wait an average of 6 days for a ‘paid for’ delivery and 8 days if shipping is free, although 1 in 2 expect a reasonably tight delivery window to be advised at checkout. This puts this market well within the expectation range of a well organised international retailer. As is the case in most other markets, including the UK, returns are an area coming under increasing scrutiny by US consumers. Only 66% are satisfied with the clarity of returns policies and fewer (62%) are happy with the actual process. In a cross-border environment with longer returns lead-times and extended refund periods, the opportunity to get this wrong and upset the customer is magnified and therefore this important issue is given more attention later on. Finally, when considering the shipping partner, it is worth understanding what they can arrange when the customer is not at home (the most popular delivery location) when their order first arrives. This is especially important in the US market because of the distances many shoppers have to deal with. A US shopper who is away from home / out at work, may easily be ‘out of town’ and not available to receive a delivery for several days. Therefore, the following solutions need to be considered – with popularity ratings provided by the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey:

• Hold the package until home to receive it – 51%

• Leave the package (neighbour or safe-place) – 50% • Take to the carrier’s local depot / office – 36%

• Take to another address (work, etc) – 36%

• Take to a ‘pick-up’ / click & collect store – 32%

• Take to a locker – 27%[19]

Click & Collect

The use of click & collect / ‘curb-side’ pick-up is an important consideration for an international retailer looking to serve the US market because perhaps a third of US shoppers find some appeal when it is used as an alternative primary delivery address, a place to take a delivery when the recipient is not at home or a convenient way to drop-off a return. While click & collect from store network continues to grow, parcel shops and locker networks are still in their infancy. Choosing the right partner for this service option is also important, because if the consumer knows and trusts the brand operating the click & collect network, this trust transfers to the retailer. This is particularly important for small-to-medium sized retailers.[20]

Import Duties

For delivery into the US there is a current duty threshold of $200, below which no import duty is due. As an example – the duty calculated for a man’s t-shirt is currently 16.5%. For the US, companies like wnDirect use ‘wheels up’ clearance – meaning parcels are customs cleared in flight, before they arrive in country. It is important to make sure that the chosen logistics partner has a customs broker on the ground who is able to manage commercial clearance with US customs. However, this is an area that will require continuing close attention because by the end of 2016, the US Government will introduce ACE (Automated Commercial Environment). This will become the primary system through which the trade community will report imports and exports and the government will determine admissibility. The system is designed to automate the customs clearance process and provide accurate shipment information, leaving less room for uncertainties. Certainly if the shipper or agent a retailer has appointed to handle their shipments to the US is not ACE-compliant by the due date, orders will be delayed as they will have to be processed as slower ‘paper’ transactions – so this will be a key question to ask.[21]


With over 12,000 taxing jurisdictions throughout the US, each empowered to alter rates and rules with little oversight, the complexity for companies trading in the US is a major challenge. In addition, 100,000+ rules and boundary changes annually make keeping up-to-date with the latest requirements difficult. International businesses selling in the US are not required to collect sales tax in a state unless they have ‘nexus.’ Nexus is defined as a connection or business presence in a state or jurisdiction. If a business has nexus in a state, they need to collect and remit sales tax according to the state regulations. Activities leading to having nexus vary per state and can include activities such as opening offices, stores or franchises, storing items in warehouses or even attending meetings or trade shows. Once you have determined where nexus exists for your business, you are required to calculate, collect, report and remit that state’s sales tax. For this reason, sales taxes are remitted based on where your business is actually located because it is the physical structure of the business that actually creates nexus. However, there are several other scenarios where nexus can be applied and these should also be considered.

As an indirect tax (a tax levied on goods and services), sales tax requires the seller to collect funds from the consumer at the point of purchase.

• Today, there are over 12,000 state, county and city jurisdictions in the US charging a sales tax

• 45 states and the District of Columbia now impose a sales tax on retail sales and some services. The bulk of their revenue is now generated from sales taxes, not income taxes. As an indication of the importance of sales tax to a state, in Texas, sales tax accounted for 54.3% of all its revenue in 2013

• Five states do not have a state-wide general sales tax; Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon. Alaska and Montana do allow localities to charge local sales taxes

VAT is applied every time value is added at each stage during the supply chain, whereas sales tax is collected only at the time of the final sale. If a seller has nexus in a state they must collect sales tax on all taxable sales regardless of the channel.

Depending on the state in which a customer is based, different items may be taxed at different rates. In some states for example, food is not taxed, while in others the same item may be classified differently. In New York, clothing and footwear costing less than $110 per item / pair is exempt from state sales tax, yet it is still subject to local sales tax in some jurisdictions. Local jurisdictions can change their tax policy towards clothing once a year. Exemptions might include “most fabric, thread, yarn, buttons, snaps, hooks, zippers and similar items that become a physical component of clothing” or are used to repair it.

To be compliant, a retailer needs to know the correct classification of an item in each state to ensure it collects and remits the correct level of tax. Collecting too much in one state will make it uncompetitive, while not collecting enough increases its exposure to potential fines. Adding to the complexity, in some states the rates can vary by city, county, or even street. Two adjacent properties can have different tax rates.[22]


U.S. mobile commerce sales didn’t grow as fast as in other parts of the world. But data from the newly published 2016 Mobile 500 projects that m-commerce will grow nearly three times faster than U.S. e-commerce overall in 2015.

Mobile commerce continues to gain momentum as a mainstream way for consumers to shop online. In fact mobile commerce now accounts for nearly one-third of all U.S. e-commerce sales, according to an analysis of data from Internet Retailer’s newly published 2016 Mobile 500.

In 2015 U.S. mobile commerce sales will total $104.05 billion, up 38.7% from $75.03 billion in 2014, reveals data from the 2016 Mobile 500. Internet Retailer estimates that mobile commerce in 2015 will grow 2.58 times faster than total e-commerce sales, which Internet Retailer projects will grow 15% this year to an estimated $350.64 billion. [23]

In the first quarter of 2015, mobile e-commerce spending reached 10 billion U.S. dollars in the United States alone. [24]


According to a study by Listrak, US women are more likely to respond to ‘on sale’ messaging than men (84% to 78%) while men are more drawn to ‘new product’ (45% to 33%) and ‘most popular’ (36% to 26%) content, versus women. Men prefer emails with recommendations based on purchase history (83% to 73%) while women (72% to 71%) prefer based on viewing behaviour, but not purchased. Men also respond better to personalised email content (71% to 66%).[25]

Email Marketing

As part of the marketing mix, email marketing still provides an important tool for driving sales, both online and offline. As with all marcomms activity, the key to effectiveness is in the offer. US consumers respond well to free delivery offers, with 54% in a recent UPS survey saying that this would prompt a purchase. Marginally behind, at 53%, was a discount offer. Interestingly, store events and direct mail still played an important role for many consumers.[26]

Social Media

With over 170 million social media users in the US in 2014 and the gure projected to exceed 200 million by 2020, social media is as much a part of the retail landscape as in many other territories. Facebook is by-far the most dominant US social media platform with a share of over 45% of total visits to social media during August 2015 in the US market. With such a dominance, Facebook is the place for shoppers to discover discounts and news. The video sharing website, YouTube, is also an important player with 21% share. Other platforms are relevant to certain sectors. For example Pinterest works well in the fashion space. Pinterest has assisted 56% of active female Pinterest users ‘at least once or twice’ with a purchase of hair care or beauty products. This percentage is 20% higher than for male Pinterest users.

The type of device used to access social media also has an impact. LinkedIn is particularly strong on desktop, probably a reflection of its use within business. Facebook and Twitter are predominantly accessed via mobile devices whilst Snapchat is only available via mobile. A recent report by Deloitte Digital showed that shoppers purchasing baby / toddler and home furnishing categories were particular likely to engage in social media. This has obvious implications for marketers in these categories, both in terms of brands wanting customers to convert in-store and those pure-plays looking to tempt consumers with an online purchase.[27]

Display Ads

Early use of banner ads did not provide much difference to their offline equivalents. However, as publishers get better at tracking, placing and relevance, advertisers in the US can get much better impact from their use. Relevance is still key but US consumers are interacting and purchasing. The following table shows total revenues from display advertising for the main publishing platforms in the US. Facebooks dominance in revenue terms illustrates the value that brands put on this platform as a tool for building consumer awareness. Google meanwhile is probably driving more direct commercial benefit and being more targeted, could offer a better ROI. Merchants trading into the US could use Facebook as the brand awreness tool, whilst using Google ad-spend to drive direct sales.[28]

Major shopping categories

In distance-selling, individual categories perform differently and the latest (2013) figures from the US Department of Commerce reporting distance sales (catalogue and ecommerce) show fashion to be one of the strongest individual sectors online. By way of contrast, the drugs, health and beauty aids sector is the largest mail-order retail sector whilst ecommerce sales are only a small proportion of the total.[29]

Major retail holidays

The main holiday-based shopping days are around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, with the following Friday being Black Friday. The following Monday is Cyber Monday, traditionally the peak online trading day. Cyber Monday scores strongly as consumers can do a lot of research over the preceding few days and then look online to make sure they are getting the best deal. It was originally a day designed by pure-play merchants to counteract the peak for in- store shopping – Black Friday. Recent years have seen an increase in promotional activity online for Black Friday. Other retail days are important but not to the same extent. According to the National Retail Federation’s Retail Insight Centre, average spending on back- to-school items has increased by 31% since 2004 to $72.5bn (€57.9bn). Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are significantly more popular than Easter, while Halloween is growing in popularity. The Super Bowl (final) weekend in February is also a major US retail event.[30]

Legal / Regulatory

What is clear is that the two-tier legal system does not make it easy to comply with all of the states’ individual requirements. At the national level, the Federal Trade Commission takes an over-arching view on consumer protection, particularly focused on making sure that traders do not misinform customers, protect their information and trade in a fair manner. At the ‘local’ level, there are a number of initiatives or projects that provide a degree of harmonisation across different states. For example, contract law via the UCC. California often has differing views on legislation and, once trading in to the US, particular attention should be paid to where their law differs from other states; or even federal law.

There are also a number of other codes or guidelines that business should / could comply with. For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Scheme (PCI DSS) and the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) ‘do not mail’ and ‘do not email’ opt-out lists. Overall, US law should not be a barrier to market entry and a legitimate business looking to offer a strong customer proposition will often find compliance a ‘fine-tuning’ exercise rather than a major overhaul.[31]

The Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. §§41-58) (FTC Act) - Federal consumer protection law that prohibits unfair or deceptive practices and has been applied to offline and online privacy and data security policies. The FTC also issue Behavioural Advertising Principles which include letting consumers know they can opt-out of such mechanisms.

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) (15 U.S.C. §§6501-6506) - Requires the FTC to issue and enforce regulations concerning children’s online privacy. An amended Rule took effect on July 1, 2013. The aim is to put parents in control of what information is collected from their children who are under 13 years of age. Operators of websites and Apps that are aimed at this age group, and those operators whose content is more general but will include the applicable audience, fall under the remit of this Act.

Financial Services Modernization Act (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB)) (15 U.S.C. §§6801-6827 - Predominantly aimed at the financial services sector, businesses that accept or process payments or provide credit facilities might fall under the remit of GLB. The Act also places limitation on what data can be shared, with whom and security/privacy requirements.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. §1681) - The Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. §1681) applies to consumer reporting agencies, those who use consumer reports (such as a lender) and those who provide consumer reporting information (such as a credit card company). Credit reports are information that is used to evaluate a consumer's eligibility for credit. For example, offering a line of credit to a retail purchaser might mean that the retailer falls under the scope of this Act.

The Federal Trade Commission: 16 CFR Part 435 Act; The Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Rule - Requires a business that advertises availability of a product to be able to deliver the product to the consumer within 30 Days. If there are reasons for non-compliance with this timeframe then the business can extend the delivery ‘window’ with the consent of the consumer. Should the consumer decline then a refund should be made available.

Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 45(a)(1)) - Activities that fall under this remit are wide ranging and include how products / services are described; pricing and advertising. Suggested reading includes the FTC’s publication .Com Disclosures, Information about online advertising.

The Federal Trade Commission: 16 CFR Part 435 Act; The Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Rule - Requires a business that advertises availability of a product to be able to deliver the product to the consumer within 30 Days. If there are reasons for non-compliance with this timeframe then the business can extend the delivery ‘window’ with the consent of the consumer. Should the consumer decline then a refund should be made available.

Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 45(a)(1)) - Activities that fall under this remit are wide ranging and include how products / services are described; pricing and advertising. Suggested reading includes the FTC’s publication .Com Disclosures, Information about online advertising.

UETA: Uniform Electronic Transactions Act - Enables two parties, by agreement, to enter a contract using digital means. Examples might include accepting a contract via a ‘buy now’ button. This isn’t a Federal law but rather one developed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. [32]

FX Policies



The technology pedigree of the US needs little introduction. Many of the globally-known, household names, have originated from the country. Internet penetration at nearly 87% is as high as in most European countries although geography can make supplying the infrastructure difficult and expensive. Increasing at a rate of 7%, the total connected population is still showing signs of healthy growth as the same issues with rolling out the infrastructure also make use of the internet and ecommerce attractive; in some areas it is difficult to physically visit the stores of the most popular brands. Whilst the number of internet users is demonstrating healthy growth, the World Bank shows that the number of internet subscribers per 100 people has only grown marginally between 2010 and 2014 whilst the UK has increased substantially, increasing the gap over the US.[33]


Consumer confidence in online is affected by many factors but the main areas of concern are fraud, delivery, returns, refunds and data protection. According to a study commissioned by Truste, 92% of US internet users worry about privacy online, an increase on the 89% of 2013. Along the same theme, only just over half (55%) of US consumers trust businesses with their data online and 58% worry about businesses sharing their information with other businesses. The more worrying trend is that 74% of internet users are more worried about online privacy than a year ago. Consumer confidence in online is affected by many factors but the main areas of concern are fraud, delivery, returns, refunds and data protection. According to a study commissioned by Truste, 92% of US internet users worry about privacy online, an increase on the 89% of 2013. Along the same theme, only just over half (55%) of US consumers trust businesses with their data online and 58% worry about businesses sharing their information with other businesses. The more worrying trend is that 74% of internet users are more worried about online privacy than a year ago.[34]

Mobile appetite

Mobile use is somewhat below the global averages in the survey. Smartphone ownership is at 41% and the intentions to use smartphone or tablet devices over the next 12 months (27%) are lower than global averages, 51% and 40% respectively. US respondents state lack of need and security concerns as reason for avoiding smartphone purchases as well as virus and spyware issues. However, the national average of online spending via a smartphone is slightly higher than the global average, with US respondents making 3% of their online purchases via mobile, against a global average of 2.5%. [35]

Visa Inc’s 2015 digital commerce study found that 37% of consumers questioned were not making purchases via a mobile device due to security concerns. 21% didn’t make a purchase via a mobile device because they didn’t know if their usual merchant accepted card payments via mobile.[36]


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