How to Expand to the U.K. Economy

While the U.S. online retail market is unquestionably huge — standing at $198 billion in 2011 based on Centre for Retail Research, an analysis firm — several U.S. shops don’t explore the European market, short of sending the strange order via airmail. In actuality, European online sales reached 201 billion Euros ($264 billion) in 2011 — a third more than the U.S. — and are growing by 12 to 14 percent each year.

Why the United Kingdom?

The explosion in European online sales is heavily concentrated, with 72 percent of sales coming from only three countries: U.K., Germany and France. The U.K. alone represents $78 billion of the total, or almost 30 percent of the whole European market. While the majority of the younger generation in Europe can speak and read English, many residents there can’t, and that’s why selling to the U.K. is the most logical step for American shops seeking to expand internationally. You could see a significant boost in earnings, while being in easy reach of mainland Europe once established in the U.K.

SEO for the U.K.

Your U.S. site will appear in search results in the U.K., but Google now puts plenty of weight to the location of this search, with U.S. pages less likely to appear — and almost completely excluded from Google Shopping results.

U.K. consumers are also likely to be put off by viewing prices displayed in U.S. dollars, as it makes it hard to compare. Moreover, many customers assume that shipping will be very slow, or very costly.

The first step, then, is to supply a U.K. edition of your website. In case you have an advanced ecommerce platform, this can be achieved by setting up regional variants, where the money and specific pages — such as sending information — are swapped automatically based upon the user’s IP address. Another, possibly better, solution is to make a replica shop hosted on a”.co. Uk” domainname, where the material is tailored to the U.K. marketplace.

Target Geographically

Google AdWords lets you target places — like the U.K. — with particular campaigns. When composing your pay-per-click advertisements, however, remember there are differences between American English and British English. So pays to find out more about the spelling and meaning of your keywords.

Shipping and Fulfillment for the U.K.

For U.S. merchants, sending to the U.K. is more expensive than shipping domestically. While some U.K. clients will be prepared to pay more, many won’t. You might need to settle for less gain initially.

Utilizing a U.K.-based fulfillment business may drastically reduce your costs and eliminate the headache of international delivery. As opposed to sending each item by air, you can send — through sea freight — a huge box or pallet to be stored at a U.K. fulfillment house, which will send orders to the U.K. and Europe on your behalf.

To use a fulfillment company in the U.K., you do not need to be sending large volumes. The savings in postage will probably cover the other costs involved, assuming you boat at least a few orders each day. And, importantly, you will have the ability to get goods to the consumer much quicker. The fulfillment company I work for in the U.K. now has many U.S.-based customers that send only 50 to 100 orders per month.

A excellent U.K.-based satisfaction company can also manage your returns, in addition to U.K.-based customer service difficulties.

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How Much Stock to Send?

Holding stock in two states — the U.K. and U.S. — can pose a few difficulties. But they can be quickly overcome. A fantastic fulfillment company will offer real time inventory reporting, to monitor stock levels and make automated stock alerts.

The cost of property in the U.K. is a few times greater than the U.S. Storage costs from the U.K., therefore, are 2 to 3 times greater than in the U.S.. If your goods are large, you will want to carefully weigh the savings from sending a huge pallet of inventory versus the extra storage costs this could generate — particularly if you’re only starting.

Import Taxes

If you’re sending to the U.K. single items with a revenue amount greater than #15, the client will pay value added tax — or”VAT,” now 20 percent — and a variable”obligation” tax on the product’s value. This is just another reason U.K.-based consumers will probably be skeptical of purchasing from a U.S. storefront. By sending to a fulfillment center, you stay away from the customer being billed. You will still have to pay VAT and duty upon the consignment, but they’ll be based on the wholesale price. And bear in mind, also, that if you are selling something that’s already available internationally, it can be cheaper to buy it from a U.K. supplier or manufacturer.

Once products are in the U.K., there are no trade barriers or taxation within the European Union, which comprises all of Europe minus a couple of states — such as Switzerland and Norway, which aren’t part of the EU.