While there are many European e-commerce markets, the UK takes the lead at number one, with a market valued at €148 billion. It's more than double the size of France and is expected to reach €365 billion within less than two years. In addition, it comes in seventh as the largest cosmetics market worldwide.
It's not hard to see that the UK e‑commerce market is booming, providing you with an exciting opportunity to reach millions of people with your products. Knowing that this can help boost your business, check out these TEN tips that will help you get started!
1. Ensure a good delivery experience
If you didn't know, Brits care about the delivery experience. For 83% of UK consumers, delivery is one of the most critical factors that can make or break their buying decisions. For example, if shipping costs too much or takes too long, most of these consumers will look elsewhere for the products they want.
If you plan to ship products from a different country to the UK, you must obtain a GB EORI number, which appears on customs declarations. It's a must-have when importing your products into the UK. You will also need to get a GB VAT number.
It can take a minimum of eight weeks and up to 12 weeks to get the number, so apply sooner rather than later.
When expanding to the UK e‑commerce market, the goal is to make the shipment process as successful as possible. Of course, this means deciding if you will ship internationally or invest in a UK warehouse and begin shipping products locally, which is better for the environment and will help your business save money while meeting the expectations of UK consumers.
2. Avoid administrative errors
Make a conscious effort to avoid administrative errors when diving into the UK e-commerce market. 70％ of UK consumers are willing to place an order if they know they won't have to pay extra to have their items shipped to them. However, you may unintentionally charge your customers additional fees if you haven't completed the proper documents.
The best way to avoid the hefty taxes and potential delays through customs is to complete your custom documents and include them with each package you send. You need to attach four specific documents to orders, including the order invoice, delivery note, customs declaration (CN23), and a Single Administrative Document for any parcels valued at more than £8,000.
Bigblue simplifies this process by automatically generating the documents needed to ship products with ease to avoid hefty taxes and lengthy delays.
3. Choose the right carrier
The next step on your to-do list is choosing the most suitable carrier to handle your packages. There are a few things to consider when selecting a carrier, such as their reputation for handling goods and how fast they can get your products to the customers. After all, you know that Brits care about the delivery experience and want to receive their merchandise in the mail quickly instead of waiting too long for what they've ordered.
Sadly, 1 in every 2 British consumers has avoided ordering items from international brands because they assume shipping would cost too much. If you plan to ship to the UK from a country like France, you can always choose UPS, the preferred carrier for express delivery. At Bigblue we use Royal Mail and UPS, the UK's two preferred carriers, for orders shipped from our Kuehne+Nagel warehouse in the UK.
The carrier you select can make or break the shipping experience, so choose wisely. Of course, this means performing extensive research on the shipping carrier options available to you and learning more about which ones are best to work on based on different factors, including shipping speeds and costs.
4. Decipher the consumption patterns of the British...
The consumption patterns in your country of origin may be different from the consumption patterns of those living in the UK. However, the good news is that the British are e-commerce enthusiasts willing to spend money on products they've purchased online instead of from a physical establishment.
47% of Brits have made a minimum of six online purchases within the last three months. Therefore, by expanding to this international market, you have the opportunity to drastically increase sales and boost revenue! But before experiencing such expansion, you need to know why these consumers are more likely to abandon their carts.
British consumers will often abandon an online shopping cart if they notice delivery taking much longer than anticipated. In addition, if shipping costs are expensive, they will likely look elsewhere for the items they wish to purchase. Lastly, if they notice that the returns process would be overly complicated, they might not want to bother. Although most consumers don't plan on returning anything they've purchased, consumers may worry that if something doesn't work well for them or fit correctly, they won't be able to get their money returned to them.
5. ... and adapt to it!
Once you understand the consumption patterns of UK consumers, it's time to adapt to those patterns and use your new knowledge to your advantage. For example, 33% of UK consumers within the 18-34 age range will frequently return items for various reasons.
If you're planning to enter the UK e‑commerce market, you need to be prepared for a potentially higher return rate than what you're currently experiencing in your country of origin.
Returns often come with hidden costs that can become quite frustrating as you work on growing your business. However, simplifying the return process can reduce these costs, keeping them low and appeasing the customers.
Make returns fast, simple, and efficient to achieve better results. With Bigblue's return portal, it's easy to provide a more optimised experience that can prevent revenue loss from the returns process.
6. Get into User Generated Content!!!
Start honing in on the power of user-generated content and what it can do for your business as you focus on expanding to the UK. 63% of online UK shoppers have stated they trust customer reviews and will read them before purchasing something new. If you have positive ratings and reviews from previous customers, you have the potential to increase your sales by a staggering 270%.
So, what are some of the best ways to boost conversion rates and get more people visiting your website to purchase products from you? Place user-generated content on your site! Look on social media for consumers who've posted positive things about your brand and the products you sell and place some of those videos, pictures, and comments throughout your site to give consumers an idea of what others are saying.
Consumers in the UK will feel more inclined to buy from you if they see the user-generated content and realise people are saying lots of positive things about your brand.
You can take a page out of Lashilé's book and post customer reviews on the front page of your website. Lashilé places its customer reviews at the top of each product page, much like what you'd see when shopping on Amazon for items. You can take this approach with any user-generated content on your brand to leave a better impression on the consumers.
7. Embrace "Buy Now, Pay Later"
Don't be afraid to embrace buy now, pay later, which will entice more consumers to buy from your business. Buy Now, Pay Later purchase volume in the UK has the potential to grow by 50% by the end of the year, reaching around €30 billion in 2023.
Offering such a convenient payment method would boost average shopping cart sales, with customers willing to spend more if they can break up the payments instead of paying for everything in one shot. Klarna, one of several buy now, pay later providers, noticed an up to 45% increase in the value of customer shopping carts.
It's all about finding the right partners to work with when selling to your UK consumers. Besides Klarna, you have other ways to provide consumers with the option of buying now and paying later, such as Shopify Payments, Mollie, and Scalapay!
8. Switch your e-commerce to British time!
Take the time to cater to UK consumers and provide a more inclusive experience. For example, 73% of products ordered online throughout the UK come from British merchants, and it's likely due to the fact that roughly 65% of online shoppers enjoy seeing fresh content in their language. Not providing content in their language or spelling could alienate consumers, driving them away from your brand.
Localise your ecommerce to the UK to achieve better results when selling to these consumers. The good news is that Shopify makes it easy to duplicate your store and change the language, so you won't have to spend too much time or effort on this transition.
9. Prepare your marketing campaigns for the UK
Next, it's time to build solid marketing campaigns that resonate with your UK audience. The UK has a reputation for being one of the most competitive e-commerce markets of all time, so you need to focus on developing an innovative strategy that produces excellent results. Look for inspiration from some of the leading e-commerce brands in the UK, such as Chilly's Bottles and Gymshark, to see how they're reaching their targeted audience and making a name for themselves.
10. Anticipate your costs and resources.
Start tracking your expenses to get an idea of how much you will need to pay to ship to consumers throughout the UK. It helps to anticipate costs to get a feel for how much you will need to spend to ensure it's worth expanding to the UK e‑commerce market.
In most cases, it's worth it, especially if it means making thousands of additional monthly sales. Once you've anticipated your costs and resources, you can focus on your marketing campaigns and begin selling to this new audience of people who will love your products.