International Trade

Online retailers turning to global markets for growth

2 min read

03 February 2015

To support further growth, eight in ten UK SME online retailers are targeting new international markets, with the US top of the list.

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of UK SME online retailers are aiming to increase international sales in 2015. This is up two-thirds on a year ago, when just four in ten (39 per cent) said they were planning to increase overseas sales in 2014.

The study – Royal Mail’s annual tracker study – found that UK SME online retailers are in positive mood for the year ahead with seven in ten businesses expecting overall sales to increase. 

The optimism for growth – which is up nine percentage points on last year – is despite 76 per cent of SME online retailers saying competition is more intense than a year ago.

“Our annual tracker study of UK SME online retailers shows that there is growing confidence that they can grow international sales,” says Nick Landon, MD of Royal Mail Parcels. 

“There is a marked increase in the percentage of UK SME online retailers aiming to grow international sales in 2015, compared with 2014. The study found that UK SME online retailers believe there is strong potential in the USA, which has overtaken Europe as the top target for businesses looking for new international markets.”

Looking at markets, the USA has overtaken Europe as the top target for online retailers looking for new international markets. This suggests UK SME online retailers believe there are greater opportunities in the USA. 

The US economy is forecast to grow at 3.6 per cent in 2015 compared to just 1.2 per cent in the Eurozone. Meanwhile, the dollar has strengthened while the Euro has weakened, meaning Sterling is more competitive in the US than Europe.

Four in ten (39 per cent) SMEs surveyed said they would be targeting the USA, up from 23 per cent a year ago. Meanwhile, 30 per cent said they would target European countries.

Canada ranked third in new international target markets for UK online retailers. Despite the falling value of the Rouble, 15 per cent of SMEs said they would target Russia this year. Last year only 9 per cent said Russia would be a new target market in the year ahead.