By Daniel Hunter

UK online retailers who sell abroad are seeking to grow sales by targeting new international markets during 2013, a study by Royal Mail has found.

65 per cent of small to medium sized enterprises (SME) online retailers who export are confident of growing sales in 2013. The study found seven in ten (73 per cent) will be targeting new international markets to help them achieve their growth plans.

USA and Europe are the top growth targets with three in ten (28 per cent) of SME online retailers who do not currently sell to those countries planning to seek out sales opportunities. Canada is third highest target (21 per cent), followed by Asia (15 per cent), Russia (14 per cent) and Africa (8 per cent).

The Middle East and Australasia will be targeted by 6 per cent of SME online retailers who do not currently sell there. South America will be targeted by 5 per cent.

UK online retailers who export are planning a range of tactics to meet their international growth expectations, the study revealed. Specifically:

- Improved online search activities are being planned for around four in ten SME online retailers with growth plans;
- 30 per cent are planning to develop a website with the domain address of the country they are targeting;
- Three in ten (27 per cent) are planning targeted direct mail campaigns while one quarter (23 per cent) are planning on using catalogues to win new business.

Overall, 56 per cent of online retailers who export saw a sales uplift in 2012, the study revealed.

To aid overseas growth, 43 per cent have introduced payment options in different currencies, while three in ten (31 per cent) have added tracking to their deliveries so the customer knows the progress of an item. One quarter of online retailers said they have introduced a foreign language section to their websites.

To help UK online retailers who have recently started or are planning to export to consumers overseas, Royal Mail has developed a new website filled with a information and advice, from growing sales to country-by-country regulations. The advice, supported by case studies of real experiences by UK online retailers who are exporting, is available at

“Royal Mail’s study shows UK online retailers will be actively seeking new international markets in 2013 to help them achieve their growth plans," Nick Landon, Managing Director of Royal Mail Parcels, said.

“Royal Mail’s global reach means we are able to support UK online retailers as they seek to expand abroad. As well as providing tracked deliveries to key international destinations, we have also developed services to help UK online retailers make it simpler for overseas shoppers to return goods they have ordered but no longer need.”

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