5 reasons you should enter the UK market
By Camille Felappi
Are you selling goods to UK customers? Are you unsure how to offer your products in one of the biggest eCommerce markets in the world? Then, keep reading.
British customers are not only valuable in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality. They are the shoppers who spend the most online, and 87% of consumers made purchases online in 2020.
Yet, many sellers do not seize this opportunity because they think that the UK is unreachable since leaving the EU. If you are one of them, we have good news for you: the UK is not an elusive dream and is well worth the effort. The country has trade agreements with the EU and many non-EU countries to facilitate imports. Overall, if you know the UK requirements, there won’t be obstacles.
So, are you ready to reach UK customers and don’t know where to start? Eurora can help you by fully automating your trade compliance! Not decided yet? Check out our 5 reasons why you should sell to the UK!
1 The UK is the third biggest eCommerce market
After China and the US, the UK is the third biggest eCommerce market in the world. As of June 2022, its eCommerce revenue reached 199.90 billion US dollars. If we take a look at the predictions, the UK eCommerce expansion is not about to stop.
Statista forecasts that eCommerce revenue in the UK will continue soaring. It could reach 285.60 billion US dollars in 2025. We can observe other promising results in the country. According to a report from MasterCard, the UK registered the highest percentage of consumers shopping online in 2021. Figures show that 29.6% of customers shopped online in 2021. When comparing the UK to the US and China, we can see that their revenues are much higher. China’s retail e-commerce sales were worth around 2.49 trillion U.S. dollars in 2021. As for the US, they reached 768 billion U.S. dollars. Nonetheless, given the size of each country, British results are outstanding.
When it comes to growth year to year, we can observe that online sales in the UK were already increasing before the Covid pandemic. However, the rate was much slower. This indicates that the UK is no exception to the global trend we saw at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. In the UK as in many other markets, eCommerce boomed after the start of the pandemic. Yet, we can notice that even after the end of the lockdowns, eCommerce maintains its momentum in the UK.
2 British online shoppers like to buy internationally
According to the Office for National Statistics, in May 2022 the total imports of goods increased by £2.2 billion (4.2%) compared to the previous month. These figures are the result of increasing imports from both EU and non-EU countries. Yet, imports from EU countries were £1.3 billion higher than from non-EU countries. For B2C imports, a recent eCommerce survey showed that British customers mainly buy goods from the US, China, France, Germany, and Japan.
However, since Brexit, UK consumers increasingly expressed cross-border shipping concerns. They fear expensive delivery costs, payment of customs charges, and poor returns policies. In some cases, it convinces them to not shop abroad at all. If you want to attract UK customers and win their trust, you need to make sure that you can offer the best delivery experience. You should take make sure they won’t pay unexpected fees or have their package held in customs. To avoid such issues, the safest way is to fully automate your cross-border trade compliance.
3 The UK market is open to overseas sellers
The UK currently has free trade agreements with over 60 countries. Following Brexit, the UK is keen on boosting trade with countries outside the EU. To that end, they have been negotiating new trade agreements with many non-EU countries. So far, the UK signed agreements with Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Other negotiations are ongoing with several other countries including India and Switzerland. These trade agreements are a great opportunity to export your goods to the UK with no tariffs. This means that you can compete with local sellers, and these agreements are beneficial for all parties. For example, the UK-Australia Agreement is expected to increase trade by 53% and boost the economy by £2.3 billion. The UK-New Zealand Agreement is expected to increase trade by almost 60% and boost the economy by £800 million.
If you are a seller from the EU, selling to the UK won’t be as challenging as you might think after Brexit. When the UK left the EU, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement has been concluded. Its goal is to set preferential agreements for trade in goods and services. This agreement provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin. To benefit from zero tariffs, you need to use the correct commodity codes for your goods in your customs declarations. Overwise, you might pay the wrong tariff and follow the wrong trade measures. For such reasons, using an Ai engine to allocate the right commodity codes is more reliable.
4 The Brits are the biggest online spenders
The Brits are the shoppers that spend the most online, reaching $4,201 per capita. They rank before American shoppers who spend $3,428 per capita and Chinese shoppers who spend $1,855. In recent months, online spending in the UK slightly dropped. Nonetheless, it remains high. This is a great opportunity for sellers to reach customers that will spend more on average.
If we take a closer look at what British online shoppers like to buy, we find clothing in the first position. According to a survey conducted by Statista, 64% of online shoppers bought clothes over the last 12 months. We can also find books, movies, music, and games in the third position with 38% of online shoppers. British shoppers most likely buy these goods online because there is a vast selection. If you want to delight your customers in the UK, you should therefore make sure you have a wide selection to offer, and that your items are in stock.
5 Mobile commerce is booming in the UK
Mobile commerce (or mCommerce) is booming in the UK as more and more shoppers use only their smartphones to make a purchase. In 2019, retail sales via mobile devices reached 50.36 billion British pounds. These revenues are expected to double in 2024, as they could reach 105.28 billion British pounds according to Statista. Different surveys conducted on British customers confirm this trend. According to a survey conducted by Statista, 65% of the British customers interviewed said they used their smartphones for online shopping in the past 12 months. If we take a step back, this growing interest in mobile commerce can be observed worldwide. However, as for eCommerce, the UK is the third biggest mobile commerce worldwide. Thus, this trend shouldn’t be overlooked if you want to succeed in the UK.
Many businesses in the UK, especially small businesses, are not mobile-friendly yet. Is your business optimized for mobile commerce? Then you have a great opportunity to outrank local competitors. Another study showed that 57% of customers won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile website. Additionally, 50% of online shoppers declared they would stop using the site altogether. Mobile shoppers are mainly searching for responsive websites that offer several payment options. If you offer a good mobile experience, you will have access to a huge base of customers. Not to neglect, these customers also tend to purchase faster than eCommerce shoppers.
Ready to seize the UK?
First things first, you need to make sure you are compliant with cross-border trade requirements. Don’t know where to start? Eurora’s full eCommerce solution can provide you with all the necessary services and automate your trade compliance.
Allocating the right commodity code to your goods is essential. It is the basis to assess all the corresponding duties and taxes, or tariff exemptions. When you know that there are thousands of commodity codes, finding them manually is not scalable. The best alternative is to use an automated tool. Eurora’s AI engine makes sure that all the goods and parcels you ship are assigned the correct HS code automatically and quickly. Our engine can automatically match product descriptions with HS commodity codes in less than 100 milliseconds, with an accuracy rate of 96%. It was developed by hundreds of experts, scientists, analysts, and researchers. It is therefore the most advanced machine learning in cross-border trade compliance.
If you need to assess duties and taxes, you certainly want to use an automated solution as well. Doing these calculations manually is time-consuming and insecure. If you do not show the right VAT or duty cost to your customers, they will have to pay the difference when they receive their goods. You are thus most likely to harm your reputation and lose customers. Eurora’s Duty & Tax Calculation engine automatically enables full visibility of VAT and duty payable. It can be done in any currency for the destination country before the order is dispatched. Our database covers VAT and duty rates, de minimis thresholds, and active free trade agreements for most countries in the world, including the UK.
Another must-do in cross-border trade compliance is checking for restrictions. Before dispatching your goods, you should always make sure your buyer can do business, and that the goods are allowed in his country. Having these checks done manually seem close to impossible. You would have to manually search for all the restricted and denied party lists. These can be national and international, plus you should do the same for restricted and denied items. Once again, automation is your way out. Eurora’s Restrictions Screening service allows you to screen all your orders against national restricted and prohibited items lists. You will gain access to an extensive range of national and international denied parties lists. This allows you to check for any restrictions before sending out an order and make sure you are compliant with international regulations.