Almost Half of UK Small Businesses Fail to Sell Abroad

Small firms cite high cost of shipping goods and custom and duties expenses as the main barriers to growing overseas

Almost Half of UK Small Businesses Fail to Sell Abroad

Just 56% of UK small businesses are selling to customers abroad despite ‘extraordinary’ demand, according to a new report by PayPal UK.

The survey of more than 1,200 small firms in major online retail markets found that while 86 million international shoppers bought from UK businesses in 2015, only 35% of domestic small enterprises plan to start selling internationally in 2016.

The high cost of shipping goods (25%), and custom and duties (20%) were cited as the main potential barriers for small businesses entering the international market.

In comparison, 64% of online French businesses now sell abroad while 61% of Spanish businesses trade overseas.

North America is the UK’s second largest market and generates 20% of UK online sales, followed by Asia with 6% of international sales.

Simon Moran, senior director of strategic client services at PayPal UK, said:

“It’s crucial for businesses to adapt their business and marketing strategies when engaging overseas shoppers.

“Over a third (38%) of online shoppers rely on search engines when looking to buy from abroad, so it’s important to get to grips with SEO.

“By taking some small steps, UK online business could reap big rewards as online international sales continue to grow.”

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