UK? OK! Why You Should Expand Into Europe


Of all the attributes afforded by the internet, it is perhaps its truly global reach which offers online retailers an enormous advantage over their offline counterparts.  Traditional retailers only have access to customers who lived in their immediate vicinity.  Online retailers, on the other hand, all have access to a vast and growing global audience.  After all, it’s called the World Wide Web for a reason, and the number of global online shoppers looks set to grow a further 50% by 2018.

Whilst this represents a tremendous opportunity for all online retailers, the challenges associated with serving customers located on other continents cannot be overestimated.  And these challenges usually start at the very last mile.  For whilst accepting orders from this global audience is usually relatively straightforward, actually getting the goods to the customer is usually where the process becomes both slow and expensive.  Over and above sometimes having to wait weeks for their purchase to arrive, customers often have the added inconvenience of having to pay additional import duty on top on the costly international shipping costs.  Hardly ideal, for both merchant and customer alike.

Since online growth in Europe is expected to continue with 18.7% growth forecast for 2016, clearly Europe is an attractive market for North American and Australasian eCommerce merchants with global aspirations.  Within Europe itself, the UK remains its most valuable eCommerce market, followed by Germany and France.

This is why the UK the first country of choice for such merchants to target when expanding internationally.  And by partnering with fulfillment and Business Development specialists already located there, overseas merchants can start reaching out to and better serving their European customers relatively quickly.  By integrating the order management and inventory with the client’s website, UK customers will normally receive their purchase the next day, with Express deliveries possible to all other European destinations at a fraction of the cost and time when compared with shipping from outside the European Union.  And since the EU is one trading block, once the goods are in Europe customers will not have to pay any additional duty or taxes.

By teaming up with the right partner located within the UK, overseas small to medium-sized enterprises located outside Europe have the opportunity to capitalise on the immense opportunities afforded by both the booming UK market, but also the other growth markets within Europe itself.

The quality of IT infrastructure and services and digital and communications, together with the United Kingdom leading the world in cross-border online sales are another reason that the UK is the first choice for overseas merchants to expand there.  Another are the wide range of financial incentives that are available from regional associations tasked with promoting inbound investment.

Given that online retail sales are predicted to eclipse $79bn in the UK this year and that the UK population are the most frequent online shoppers in Europe, the time has never been better for North American and Australasian eCommerce companies to gain a foothold there in order to secure their slice of this vibrant and growing market.