According to recent Royal Mail’s survey 68% of UK SME online retailers currently sell overseas. 80% of them sell to Europe (mainly France, Germany and Spain), 35% to USA, 31% to Canada and 17% to Asia.
Despite these figures there is still a keen appetite for exporting with almost two thirds aiming to increase international sales revenues in 2018.
Increasing their social media presence, running more promotional offers and introducing new products/services are the main ways retailers are planning to achieve growth.
Currently 78% of UK SME online retailers sell via their own website and 54% sell on a marketplace.
25% have both a physical store and online presence, 14% sell via a catalogue, 21% over the phone and 12% via exhibitions.
In 2018, 53% are planning to sell through new channels.
The e-commerce sector is becoming increasingly globalised. There are currently over 2 billion internet users in 200 countries, with nearly 100 million of them in English speaking countries. With pound being week it is a particularly good time for UK businesses to explore exporting options.
If you are looking to start targeting international customers follow these simple tips:
- Make your delivery charges affordable, otherwise they won’t buy.
- Be clear about customs charges – remember that sales within EU incur no customs charges at present.
- Make sure international payment works – offer customers an option of paying by MasterCard, Visa, Maestro and Paypal.
- Translate your website – if you have identified a target market overseas, translate your website and make sure it is searchable in the target language.
- Convert prices – create a tool that will convert your prices into euros, dollars or other currencies.
- Provide customer support in the local language. Offer an email, phone number or live chat support and consider time differences.
- Check out the local competition, service expectations and nuances of your target country.
In December 2017 the value of exports (EU and Non-EU) was £29.6 billion, and imports (EU and Non-EU) was £39.1 billions. This suggests that targeting overseas customers presents a huge opportunity for UK SME online retailers.
Source: HM Revenue & Customs Overseas Trade Statistics