Cross-Border Electronic Commerce: Distance Effects and Express Delivery in European Union Markets

Thai Young Kim, Rommert Dekker, and Christiaan Heij
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 21, Number 2, 2016-17, pp. 184-218.


This empirical study examines distance effects on cross-border electronic commerce and in particular the importance of express delivery in reducing the time dimension of distance. E-commerce provides suppliers with a range of opportunities to reduce distance as perceived by online buyers. They can reduce psychological barriers to cross-border demand by designing websites that simplify the search for and comparison of products and suppliers across countries. They can reduce cost barriers by applying pricing strategies that redistribute transportation costs, and they can overcome time barriers offering express delivery services. This study of 721 regions in five countries of the European Union shows that distance is not “dead” in e-commerce, that express delivery reduces distance for cross-border demand, and that e-demand delivered by express services is more time sensitive and less price sensitive than e-demand satisfied by standard delivery. The willingness of e-customers to pay for express services is shown to be affected by income and by the relative lead-time benefits and express charges. Furthermore, the adoption of express delivery is positively associated with e-loyalty in terms of repurchase rates. The results confirm the importance for e-suppliers of cleverly designed delivery services to reduce distance in order to attract online customers across borders.

Key Words and Phrases: Centralized distribution centers, cross-border demand, distance, distance effects, express delivery, global e-commerce, gravity model, willingness to pay.