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Cross-border online sales to reach £10bn

By Retail Technology | Thursday March 7 2013

Online shopping trade body urges that creating trust is a key challenge for UK retailers in foreign markets during 2103

Cross-border sales in Europe are set to reach €36 billion (£31bn) in 2013 to account for 10.6% of total online sales in the region, according to e-retail trade body IMRG. It estimated the value of cross-border sales to be worth €26bn (£22bn) in 2012.

UK continues to lead the way

UK retailers are proving to be the most successful in trading across borders; in 2012 international consumers spent £7.4bn on UK-based sites, with the total set to exceed £10bn this year. The body also said that UK growth was second only to the US market in terms of overall value.

As the domestic market has started to show signs of maturing, cross-border markets have become very attractive to UK retailers, offering multiple opportunities for sustained growth as these markets develop and consumers increasingly turn to the options available to them online.

Andrew McClelland, chief operations and policy officer at IMRG, declared that cross-border is the future of e-commerce, and UK retailers have particularly good prospects due to the advanced state and sophistication of the market here. 

But he cautioned: “Expanding internationally is a complex business however. And retailers need to carefully identify markets that are appropriate to them rather than just attractive in terms of value and growth. Research is everything when it comes to cross-border; there have been several instances of retail brands finding success by selling product ranges that they are not well-known for by consumers in the UK.”

Inspiring confidence in shoppers

Inspiring confidence among international consumers remains one of the key challenges retailers have to overcome in order to be successful in foreign markets. Research from Trusted Shops found that two thirds of online shoppers regard an internationally known trustmark as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when considering a cross-border purchase.

Jean-Marc Noël, managing director at Trusted Shops, commented: “When shopping online for a good deal, being able to consider products from other countries can bring huge savings or greatly increase choice. This is clearly driving the growth of cross-border sales. However retailers should remember that most online markets are not as advanced as the UK. This means that a different approach must be taken, as foreign shoppers may be more sceptical of shops based abroad.”

In order to facilitate cross-border growth across Europe, the Trusted Shops and IMRG ‘Internet Shopping is Safe (ISIS)’ schemes combined in 2012 to create a standard European trustmark that greatly supports UK retailers in their international expansion strategies.

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