In Search of Cross-border E-commerce Trade Data

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This report explores possible sources of data for gauging cross-border e-commerce. Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce accounts for the dominant share of global e-commerce and is therefore also likely to be the most important component of cross-border sales online. However, as data on B2B e-commerce are generally scarce, attention is also given to consumer-oriented shopping (i.e. Business to Consumer (B2C) and Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) In general, there is scant information on cross-border e-commerce. Most estimates of e-commerce do not make a clear distinction between whether it is domestic or international. What official statistics that exist are typically derived from either enterprise surveys or consumer surveys. The former can capture B2C and B2B e-commerce, while consumer surveys capture B2C and C2C transactions. Further distinctions can be made by type of product, target market, and device used in placing orders. Ecommerce may involve physical goods, services purchased online but delivered in person, as well as intangible products (goods and services) that can be delivered digitally. This report reviews the availability of data related to cross-border e-commerce from the perspective of official statistics, as well as from private sector sources, such as company reports and market research. One challenge with data from private sources is lack of detail on the methodology used, for example about whether both goods and services are included. Various proxies that might be linked to cross-border e-commerce are examined for their possible relevance. The report concludes with observations about developments in cross-border e-commerce and recommendations for improving and enhancing its statistical measurement.


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