International Trade

Exporting online – why now is the time to get started

6 min read

24 September 2018

More overseas shoppers are buying online from UK companies than any other European country.

British goods are in demand, and mobile retail is facilitating it.

A recent study has shown that international consumers are increasingly looking to British made goods when it comes to retail preferences.

The study, conducted by Ipsos Mori for PayPal, also found that 14% of the consumers surveyed bought goods from the UK in the last 12 months (behind China on 26% and the USA on 21%).

Seven EU nations ranked the UK in their top three countries to buy from.

Clearly, it’s a lucrative time for UK companies to sell products overseas via the internet – so what are the benefits?

By exporting online a company can:

• Find new customers in international markets,
• Do business 24/7,
• Build brand awareness,
• Access new markets in a low-cost way, and
• Monitor real-time sales and use data to make informed business decisions.

Support to help you e-export

But for those businesses that have not yet ‘e-exported’ – where to start?

The Department for International Trade (DIT) can help. Its E-Exporting Programme has been set up to help UK companies – regardless of their experience – sell with some of the world’s leading marketplaces.

The programme’s selling online overseas tool is a free-to-use service enabling firms to sell based on their product category and/or export market of choice.

Eligible UK companies can access special deals negotiated by DIT with some of the marketplaces listed.

In addition, DIT’s e-commerce advisers, based around the UK, provide specialist advice on exporting products in the food and drink, consumer goods and retail sectors online.

A strategic approach to selling overseas

DIT’s E-Exporting Programme is one of many ways the government aims to drive growth for the UK economy.

Its recently published Export Strategy sets out how it plans to:

• Encourage and inspire businesses that can export but have not started or are just beginning,
• Help businesses access the right information, advice and practical assistance,
• Connect businesses to overseas buyers, markets and each other, and
• Ensure no viable export fails for lack of finance or insurance from the private sector.

The strategy commits DIT to continuing to support businesses to reach overseas customers more easily, including through its selling online overseas service on great.gov.uk.

Baroness Fairhead, minister of state for trade and export promotion, said: “Our recently published Export Strategy sets out our ambition to grow exports as a percentage of GDP to 35%, and getting more UK firms to sell online is key to achieving this.”

Online success is no mystery for Grimsby company

For Red Herring Games, a murder-mystery entertainment firm based in Grimsby, it’s clear why business is booming.

Following DIT advice, the company started selling through Amazon US, which is forecasting over £200,000 in sales over the next five years.

“Sales of our products have increased astronomically,” said Jo Smedley, Red Herring Games’ founder. “Products that we sell five to seven of in the UK, over there, they’re selling 480. Around 50% of our sales comes from exporting. This year, we’re going to hit about 75% just with Amazon.”

Other GREAT support for UK companies

If you have a question about trading globally via the web, DIT’s E-Exporting Programme Team can help.

But the department’s selling online overseas tool is just one of the services available on great.gov.uk.

On the website companies can also:

• Access guidance on key topics such as customer insight, export finance and business planning,
• Create a free trade profile which promotes their business to overseas buyers, and
• View live export opportunities from around the world and apply for contracts.

The site features the Exporting is GREAT campaign, which aims to inform companies about the benefits of selling overseas, encourage them to consider exporting as part of their business plans, and inspire them into action.

If you’ve exported before and want to be part of the campaign, sign up here to become an Export Champion.

You’ll receive a suite of digital Exporting is GREAT assets, and join a UK-wide network of like-minded companies proud to show their support for exporting.

On GOV.UK you can find contacts for support in your region and information about UK Export Finance, the government’s export-credit agency.

You can also get export support from other organisations such as business organisations, professional/trade associations and banks.