By Murray Lambell, Director of International Trade, eBay Europe
The UK has become the world’s second biggest online retail exporter. According to the British Retail Consortium, shoppers from all over the world are demanding UK goods, from UK brands, purchased easily over the internet. Consumers don’t mind if a product they want is at a local store or in a shopkeeper’s window halfway around the world. It’s now less about location and more about consumer engagement — anytime, anywhere.
The recent BRC figures show that foreign shoppers have been flocking to UK sites over the past year. The rapid uptake of smartphones globally has played a large part in the development. Retailers experienced a 64% increase in the total volume of overseas consumers searching for UK brands on smartphones, with a 41% year-on-year increase in the volume of searches by tablet.
Led by mobile, a commerce revolution is under way — how we shop today is being transformed at breakneck speed. Shoppers want convenience, speed and choice. They want to shop anytime, anywhere, on any device and we have to respond to how they shop.
Today there are around 2.5 billion internet users worldwide. That’s expected to grow to three billion over the next three years. There is no doubt that the popularity of UK brand names, coupled with a general rise in access to online shopping inevitably leads to an upwards trend of exports. UK retailers are perfectly placed to cater for this global demand — on eBay, fashion items are our biggest export but we see strong exports across all of our categories.
The fact that the UK is a leading light with its online exports also says a lot about our homegrown retail practices. Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, links the rise in exports to UK retailers investing heavily in international online experiences, localised websites and faster delivery times.
Retailers have been spurred on to create a fuller range of integrated services thanks to the phenomenal growth of online and mobile shopping among British consumers. We see this firsthand in the UK where an item is bought every second via the eBay app. It is this expertise in selling to a tech-savvy domestic market that has in turn allowed British retailers to quickly adapt, grabbing the attention of the wider global market.
But it’s not just the powerhouses of British retail that can benefit from this trend. Small retailers can now leverage low cost online marketplaces to reach a global audience overnight, a trend appearing more and more in emerging markets.
We know platforms such as eBay dramatically reduce distance as a barrier to trade, providing companies with a low cost way to easily reach international customers, access to compelling commercial pricing and group discounts on logistical elements such as shipping and translation.
The global marketplace presents businesses in the UK with an incredible opportunity. Changing consumer shopping habits are having a dramatic effect on commerce and many UK retailers are using their popularity and digital expertise to reach customers across the world - now’s the time for UK retailers of all sizes to turbo-charge their international trade.
The International Festival for Business - IFB 2014 - is the most exciting international business initiative of 2014 and International Trade Expo will be at its heart.
A two day expo with exhibitors, seminars, workshops and networking events designed to plug your business into the engine of international trade. Expert speakers, country profiles, advice clinics and innovative solutions for the challenges of doing business in the global market place. International Trade Expo is the event for everyone concerned with international trade.
International Trade Expo 10-11th June, Echo Arena, Liverpool
For more information visit www.internationaltradeexpo.co.uk