Ship Globally: UK vs. International Fulfillment

Ship Globally: UK vs. International Fulfillment

Julie Cauville

Julie Cauville

November 25, 2022

When operating as an international brand that sells to consumers in the UK, it's vital to understand the rules you must follow and the requirements you need to reach to begin shipping products to consumers successfully. Choosing the right strategy for your logistics in the market is crucial for your success in the country. Why? UK consumers are extremely sensitive to the delivery experience, and 55% will abandon their shopping cart if the delivery time is too long or the delivery fees are too expensive.

If you’re not compliant, it will become difficult for you to sell to UK consumers or even attract their business in the first place. The good news? When you put effort into finding out what it takes to sell to an international market, you can provide an incredible delivery experience that leaves a lasting impression on the consumers.

With that in mind, you're probably wondering which shipping method is best for your business model: international or local. The truth is that either option can work, but there are some things you will need to know beforehand to help you decide on the method you plan to use to reach UK consumers.

The British are very sensitive to the delivery experience

One of the first things you NEED to understand is that the British care about the delivery experience they will have when buying from different businesses. 70% of consumers in the UK will feel more enticed to buy from a company if they know they won't have to worry about paying additional fees or dealing with costly taxes at checkout.

Because the British are so sensitive to the delivery experience, prioritising affordable, fast shipping is the most effective way to make a good impression on them. If you're leaving a better impression on the consumers, you have a greater chance of getting them to buy from your business again because they will look forward to getting their items on time. 

When focusing on meeting their expectations, you will need to choose between local shipping in the UK and international shipping, where you ship directly from your location to your UK consumers.

Mastering the steps to ship from abroad to the UK

You can begin shipping to consumers in the UK when you've received your GB EORI number and GB VAT, which are must-haves when importing goods throughout England.

Ship from abroad to the UK

When it comes to shipping abroad to the UK, you may think it's a feasible solution. And while it's optional, there are pros and cons to it that you need to be aware of before making your decision.

Choosing international shipping can help you gauge the level of interest you can gain from UK consumers. It's a great way to see if you have enough customers wanting to support your business and purchase your products before you take additional steps to invest in a UK warehouse. But while you can use it to get an idea of UK consumers' overall interest in your business, that is one of the few benefits of international shipping.

Unfortunately, international shipping leads to significantly longer delivery times because your products need to go through customs. Even if they pay extra, they may still need to wait weeks to receive their goods from you. In addition, your packages take longer to get to customers because they have to travel even further.

Believe it or not, international shipping can take up to 10 business days (or LONGER). However, customers can receive their items the next day when you're shipping from the UK to UK consumers.

Pros and cons of shipping from abroad to the UK

The 4 fundamental steps

No matter what you decide, there are a few basic steps that you must follow to prepare your e-commerce for shipping to consumers in the UK. These steps include:

  1. Create your account on the UK Government Gateway.
  2. Acquiring a GB VAT number from the Government Gateway account. Before submitting any tax declarations to HM Revenue and Customs, you need to have this number. (Keep in mind it will take a minimum of eight weeks and up to 12 weeks to get this number, so apply for it as soon as possible.)
  3. Apply for the GB EORI. You must have this if you want to import goods into the UK. Suppose you have yet to obtain a government portal ID. In that case, you can create your portal ID when completing your application.
  4. Following the mandatory administrative declarations to remain compliant while shipping your items to consumers throughout the UK.

The documents attached to each order

When relying on Bigblue, you can generate all must-have documents automatically without worrying about taking additional steps.

Mastering the requirements for shipping locally in the UK

If you've decided it's better to go with local shipping because you can lower shipping fees and reduce overall expenses for the consumers, you're making a good move. Of course, this means achieving the necessary paperwork, but it's worth it if you can provide faster delivery speeds, ultimately improving the delivery experience for your consumers.

When shipping from the UK, you can provide custom-tailored experiences for consumers who typically can receive their online orders quickly. While this benefits consumers, shipping locally is also better for the environment and can help you save 101% on shipping-related expenses.

Now that you're more aware of the expectations of UK consumers and what they want when ordering online from companies that operate outside their country, you may be ready to go for local shipping instead of international shipping. With many advantages, such as speedy shipping, low costs, and a more positive environmental impact, you can earn a better reputation among UK consumers, which will help your brand flourish over the years.

To master the requirements for shipping locally in the UK, you need to get your GB EORI number. If you have this number, you can legally sell throughout the UK. However, registration is easier than it sounds and is something you can achieve in a day! It typically takes roughly 13 days to set up a company in England, whereas it often takes up to 32 days in other European countries.

After you receive your GB VAT number, be sure to send a copy of your VAT declaration. Keep in mind that you must report your VAT quarterly. You must also create a Making Tax Digital (MTD) report each year if you've earned a minimum of £85,000

Many resources are available to help you with any concerns over tax declarations, including multiple MTD-enabled software providers. Just like the United States has its own digital tax compliance solutions, so does the UK, and you can use these solutions to your advantage to stay on top of all things tax-related for your business.

Pros and Cons of shipping locally to the UK

Choosing the right carrier

Although choosing to ship locally is one crucial decision, there are other things you need to prioritise. You will also need to select a suitable carrier to help you deliver your goods to the customers. Always research the different carriers available when shipping to UK consumers to ensure you're working with a reliable one that will deliver your products as quickly as possible and improve the overall delivery experience.

84% of UK consumers agree that the shipping carrier used impacts their decision to order from e-commerce businesses. When British consumers see costly delivery fees, they typically leave the website and look elsewhere for the items they want or need. And most of these consumers want to ensure their goods are getting to them within a reasonable timeframe. They're less likely to buy from your business if they see that shipping will take a few weeks.

So which carrier is the best? 55% of consumers in the UK prefer Royal Mail because the logistics company has a reputation for providing fast and convenient delivery experiences to consumers. They also prefer UPS when ordering express delivery to ensure their packages arrive swiftly.

Preferred carriers in the UK

Importing your merchandise stock into the UK

It helps to know how to import your merchandise stock into the UK. Any stock imports must have customs declarations. The good news? You don't have to constantly clear customs on every order when shipping products from a warehouse in the UK to consumers in the same country. Also be mindful of fashion labelling regulations and especially strict cosmetics label regulations.

You can keep your products in Bigblue's UK warehouse while having quick and easy access to the most accurate, up-to-date information on inventory. Being able to track your inventory comes in handy because you will know when you're beginning to run low on certain items. Ultimately, shipping more out to the UK warehouse to continue fulfilling orders for your customers without any additional delays.

Local shipping is the best delivery method when catering to UK consumers. These consumers have high expectations and will want to receive their products from your business as quickly as possible, even in as little as 24 hours from the time of making an initial order. While this may seem nearly impossible to do, it's a goal you can accomplish when you have items fully stocked in a UK warehouse and select the right carrier to work with to deliver your goods.

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