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UK online retailers looking to expand international exports post-Brexit

Published: 27 November 2018 - Kiran Grewal

Online retailers are exploring growth opportunities in markets outside of Europe, in response to uncertainty around trade regulations caused by Brexit, research has found.

Internetretailing.net has reported the findings which suggest the US is the most desirable ecommerce export market, named by 64% of the more than 100 online retailers that took part in the Global Freight Solutions (GFS) study. Second-placed was Australia (17%) while China (13%) lagged behind.

But GFS says that retailers might fare better if they move beyond the English-speaking markets that topped its study. The US market, it says, is price sensitive, even though revenues are forecast by Statista to increase to $138.7bn in 2022, from $93bn in 2017.

More sales take place online, at around 17%, in China than in the US, where 8.1% of sales are made online. However, the 13% of retailers that want to explore this market suggests, said GFS, a gap in local fulfilment and delivery knowledge of the region. More than half of respondents (52%) said they were looking to work more closely with external delivery experts and partners in the next 12 months.

Three quarters (76%) of UK retailers said they expected to increase international revenue over the next few years. Currently most see growth coming from within the EU, and only 3% say all their growth in international revenue comes from outside the EU. However for the moment it is unclear what customs and tariff regimes will cover EU countries from the end of March.

 

Almost all (98%) of respondents said it was important, or even critical, to offer customers a broad choice of delivery options in order to reduce cart abandonment rates. Yet, only one in 10 retailers surveyed have more than five delivery options. That chimes with IRUK Top 500 research that suggests the median UK retailer offers three delivery options.

Online retailers said the main reason they didn’t offer a greater choice of delivery at checkout was the time and effort it takes to manage multiple carriers and integrate them into their IT systems.

Chief executive of GFS, Neil Cotty said: “The reality is that when retailers decide to take on responsibility for delivery on their own, whether domestic or international, multiple carrier overheads and the lack of robust parcel delivery functions are a real problem. Delivery is one of the most complex aspects of retail to get right on an international scale, so retailers shouldn’t be expected to add ‘delivery expert’ to the already many hats they wear.”

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