International Trade

How small businesses can make it big in the US

2 min read

20 October 2016

Former special projects journalist

The majority (59 percent) of British retail decision-makers consider the US to be the most important retail e-commerce market, despite the fact that less than half (44 per cent) of UK retailers currently sell to the US.

Furthermore, just 13 per cent have plans to start selling to shoppers in the US in the future.

This is according to a survey by cross-border e-commerce specialist Global-e, which highlighted the US as one of the largest and most sophisticated e-commerce markets in the world. Online sales reached $341.7bn in 2015, a 14.6 per cent increase on 2014, and by 2019 the North American e-commerce market is expected to reach $579.9bn.

Why should UK businesses target the US?

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the US which raised the level at which import taxes are applied from $200 to $800, making it considerably cheaper and often tax-free for US shoppers to purchase from foreign merchants online. Coupled with the pound’s all-time low, now would be the optimum time for British retailers to target the US.

American shoppers are increasingly shopping across borders, and 54 per cent of frequent online shoppers have bought at least one item from a retailer outside of the US, according to research by Comscore.

Things to consider

US shoppers may not feel confident making a purchase if the store doesn’t offer prices in US dollars; in fact, according to Global-e’s data, 99 per cent of US customers prefer to pay in their own currency.

US consumers are also more likely to make a purchase from a site that will provide local returns, multiple shipping options at attractive rates, and guarantee no additional taxes or costs upon delivery.

“Most retailers fail to offer overseas customers their local payment methods, localised pricing or multiple shipping options at attractive rates and local return options – which impacts conversions abroad. Retailers must streamline the customer experience by providing localisation, this needn’t mean building a standalone website from the outset or negotiating deals in every market,” said Nir Debbi, CMO and co-founder of Global-e.

“Retailers can achieve this high standard without investing heavy time and money into the process by working with specialist partners to achieve the personalisation the consumer expects.”