Should I be exporting online?

The simple answer is ‘yes’. International ecommerce is an ever expanding industry and the UK as a net exporter is expected to be worth £28 billion by 2020 – it’s growing four times faster than domestic retail. Every UK business with a different product or service on offer needs to invest in online trade in order to compete in the future.

Recent trade reports have gathered detailed and useful statistics to illustrate the most lucrative markets and show how the most successful businesses export online.

Where are the key markets?

The UK is a major contender in the world of B2C international ecommerce and along with the USA, China and Germany, the UK holds one of the biggest growth markets. Collectively, these markets are predicted to double in size and gain £320 billion to their net worth by 2018.

The UK is both the USA and China’s second most favoured country for cross-border shopping; 9% of the USA’s shoppers and 6% of Chinese shoppers purchase from the UK. In Germany, 15% of cross-border shopping comes from the UK, making us the German shopper’s number one choice for online purchasing.

Penetrating these international online markets therefore offers mass potential growth for your business.

How do I compete?

Customers like importing from the UK due to the unique range of products on offer, the quality of the products, and the competitive price. International consumers value the UK as a brand – this in itself works as an opportunity to sell. Here’s some tips for competing online:

Be different – in order for your business to succeed in the USA and Germany, focus on being different – a significant strategy which should already be in place. Offering a unique product that shoppers cannot purchase in their own country is the number one pull factor for shoppers in the USA and Germany. Whilst in China, high quality products with a sense of authenticity are the highest pull factors.

Be versatile – logistics, user needs and payment providers are paramount to winning over the international consumers. Factors like offering a safe and preferred payment method, affordable shipping, and local language websites, will draw in loyal, return customers.

Be modern – mobile and tablet users are shopping online more and more. This demand for on-the-go purchasing needs to be catered for in your marketing strategy.

Be fluid – consider varying currencies and set the right price for your product. Different products will require different currency strategies, such as you might have a set price regardless of country. Being fair on price, and setting this as a standard, will put you in good stead.

Be adaptable – consider different online ecosystems such as China – their main e-marketplace is Taobao which presents a totally different shopping experience to that of the west’s eBay and Amazon.

Prepare for barriers – earn the trust of your cross-border shoppers by adapting to the different languages, currency and logistical needs that make them return to your site. Research the markets to find out what you need to develop.

Success stories

From 2012-2015, ASOS as both a website and an e-marketplace for fashion brands has gone from strength to strength, making it the number one UK retailer in the USA and Germany. This is due to its zonal pricing, hassle free policy on returns, and its accessibility across various online platforms such as Pinterest or Facebook.

MyProtein is the second highest selling UK retailer in Germany due to its tailor made product offering and building a trust in its shoppers in the quality of their products through savvy digital marketing and social media influencers. This again relates to the current market trends as health and fitness has seen a boom in popularity in recent years.

Healthy food and snack company Graze is the fourth highest selling UK retailer in the USA as it is marketed to suit consumer tastes and continuously develops new products. Its localised logistics also mean that consumers can ensure quick and easy delivery.

Boden is also in Germany’s top ten; the clothing company focused on British heritage as a brand and tackled barriers such as shipping cost and speed, tailoring payment methods and localising languages in order to meet the needs of the international markets.

For more information on winning international ecommerce strategy, you can now download our latest guide: Is Export Led E-commerce Growth Right for My Business?

Topics: E-commerce, Export Planning, and Getting Started
Export Action Plan