Royal Mail is An Official Partner of Small Business Advice Week
Royal Mail has partnered with Small Business Advice Week to champion exporting as one of the key ways for the UK economy to grow moving into 2019 and beyond.
UK SME Exports Show Marked Growth, Up 30 Per Cent Since 2016
- Exporting is showing strong growth but there’s still room for improvement, according to new research from Royal Mail to support Small Business Advice Week (3rd – 9th September)
- The study shows that over half (52 per cent) of UK SMEs sell to customers outside the UK, up from 40 per cent in 2016
- But, 48 per cent are limiting their sales potential by focusing on the domestic market alone
- Cost and complexity of getting through customs (34 per cent), knowledge of the market (20 per cent) and risk associated with currency conversion (19 per cent) are some of the perceived barriers to trading outside of the UK
- UK SMEs consider Europe to have the most potential to generate new sales, followed by the USA and China. A quarter of UK SMEs currently exporting within the EU would like to seek opportunities to sell outside the EU
- The number of UK SMEs selling products on international marketplaces has increased by 60 per cent since 2016. However, six in ten are yet to tap into this opportunity
- Over the next five years, UK SMEs would like to be exporting a fifth of their goods
UK SMEs have made significant inroads to increase their exports since 2016, according to new research from Royal Mail released today to support Small Business Advice Week. Over half (52 per cent) of UK SMEs sell to customers outside the UK, up from 40 per cent in 2016. However, this means that just under half of UK SMEs are limiting growth opportunities by continuing to focus on domestic sales alone.
Cost and complexity of getting through customs (34 per cent), knowledge of the market (20 per cent) and risk associated with currency conversion (19 per cent) are some of the factors putting off UK SMEs selling to customers outside of the UK.
Europe is currently the most popular region for UK SME exports. A quarter (25 per cent) of these businesses already sell within the EU and would like to seek opportunities to sell outside the EU. Thirteen per cent already sell outside the EU and will be seeking more opportunities to do so. Over the next five years, UK SMEs would like to export 20 per cent of their goods.
While domestic online marketplaces are popular among SMEs looking to grow their UK customer base, only four in ten (37 per cent) sell products on international marketplaces. While this represents a 60 per cent increase from 2016, the figures suggest that many are missing out on the huge sales potential such marketplaces offer.
Exporting UK SMEs expect almost a fifth (17 per cent) of their sales to come from outside the UK this Christmas. This peak sales period is increasingly viewed as an opportunity to drive further growth through international sales, as well as to take advantage of changes in currency rates.
A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: “Expanding your business overseas might seem like a daunting prospect. But, the reality is that ecommerce is driving global trade. If UK SMEs want to benefit as a result, they need to expand into international markets. Many of the perceived barriers our research has identified can be easily addressed. As the proud delivery partner of the UK’s small businesses, we have pulled together some key hints and tips to help business owners who want to take the leap.”
If you are looking to start targeting international customers or to increase your visibility overseas, follow these simple tips from our experts at Royal Mail:
Make your delivery charges affordable
Retailers should offer affordable delivery to overseas customers, otherwise they won’t buy. The cost of carriage should not exceed one third of the price of the goods and free delivery is an attractive option for many customers, if it makes sense.
Be clear about customs charges
Most non-EU shoppers are concerned about customs charges – many websites have intimidating warnings, suggesting that customs charges can often be prohibitive. However, sales within the EU incur no customs charges at present.
Make sure international payment works
Most international buyers use MasterCard or Visa and Maestro is becoming increasingly popular. Also consider offering Paypal.
Translate your website
If you have identified a target market overseas that is non-English speaking, then translate your website and make sure it is searchable in the target language.
Convert your prices
Create a simple to use tool that will translate your prices into euros, dollars or the currency of your target markets.
Provide customer support
It is important to offer some degree of support in the local language. Offer an email, phone number or live chat support and remember to consider time differences.
Check out the local competition
Make sure you understand the local pricing structures, service expectations and nuances of your target country.
Wherever you want to send a letter or a parcel, at Royal Mail we can deliver. Our outlook and our networks are international. We provide letter and parcel services to and from countries around the world and have established global reach with all postal authorities.
Royal Mail has helped many businesses to sell overseas, including Biscuiteers. Royal Mail enables the company to sell handmade biscuits, chocolates and macaroons all over the world. You can find more information here.
Royal Mail Reveals USA is UK’s Top Exporting Hotspot
- UK businesses export the most parcels to USA, France and Germany
- Australia and Ireland also feature in the top five for UK business parcels
- The USA has been the UK’s top exporting hotspot destinations for the last four years
- UK businesses send the most letters to Germany, Ireland and France
- The most imports for parcels come from China, followed by Germany, USA, Netherlands and Switzerland
- The most inbound letters come from USA and have done so for the last three years
The USA, the largest economy in the world*, is the UK’s top exporting hotspot for business parcels, according to Royal Mail data for the financial year 2017/18. France and Germany take the second and third spots, respectively. Australia takes fourth and Ireland fifth place. The USA has been the UK’s top exporting hotspot for the last four years. France and Germany have also featured in the top five for UK business parcels over this time period. With global reach and the leading enabler of ecommerce in the UK, Royal Mail is well placed to observe trends across the industry.
When it comes to letters, UK businesses send the most to Germany, Ireland and France. USA and Australia also feature in the top five. Ireland has been in the top two for the last four years.
The top five countries that the UK imports goods from remains unchanged over the last three years. China leads the way followed by Germany, USA, Netherlands and Switzerland. For letters, the most inbound have come from USA for the last three years. France and Germany are also in the top three destinations.
A spokesperson for Royal Mail Parcels said: “Ecommerce is becoming increasingly globalised in today’s market. Exporting and importing is key for many businesses and it is crucial that they select a delivery partner that is committed to a secure and efficient service. Royal Mail’s scale and global reach make us the natural choice for such businesses.”