Have you thought about expanding to the UK ecommerce market? The United Kingdom has the largest e-commerce market of all European countries, coming in at number three behind the United States and China. You may be surprised to learn that sales within the UK ecommerce market reached an all-time high of $169 billion in 2021 and will likely more than double, reaching around $368 billion within the next 12-18 months. 

With millions of people in the UK shopping online for their favorite products, it's an excellent time for your D2C brand to begin focusing on this international market.

Broadening your reach to an international market can provide numerous benefits to your business, enabling it to grow, and drastically increase revenue over the years. But before you start selling to these customers, you're probably wondering if it's a good idea to transition and begin serving customers throughout the UK.

The benefits of selling to UK consumers

While you now know that the UK ecommerce market is one of the largest, there are other additional benefits associated with expanding to an international market. As a business owner, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Easily connect with an international market - Some markets are more challenging to relate to than others because of a language barrier. For businesses based in the United States, Canada, Australia, and other English speaking countries, nothing will get lost in translation when you launch your brand in the UK.
    If you own a European brand, coming to the UK will significantly speed up things when you are ready to open new international markets, because English is the official language of the country and one of the primary languages spoken worldwide.
  • Boost sales revenue - Depending on your local market size, targeting the UK audience can help you double, triple, or even quadruple your sales in due time. If you're looking forward to experiencing tremendous growth and would like to bolster your profits, and a great opportunity to learn and expand into additional European markets.
  • Build a solid reputation in a different country - Once you've developed an excellent reputation in your local country for your e-commerce, you may want to broaden your reach and make waves in different countries. Connecting with one of the largest international markets is a fantastic way to build your fanbase and build a strong community of influencers and consumers that will facilitate expanding to new markets by posting user generated content praising the benefits of your product and building hype for their unboxing experience. 

What to consider before launching your e-commerce in the UK

With thoughts of benefiting from expanding to the UK ecommerce market currently on your mind, you're likely wondering what you will need to consider before you officially begin selling to these consumers. 

What do the consumers care about most?

Even if you know your targeted audience quite well, it's important to remember that UK consumers are different from consumers in the United States, France or any other local market, so what they care about during the e-commerce experience can differ. 

For example, in the United Kingdom, 70% of consumers feel more inclined to make a purchase when they know they won't have to pay extra taxes or fees when completing the purchase. In addition, 83% of consumers say that the anticipated delivery time can make or break their purchase. 

So, what does this tell you? It lets you know that lowering fees and offering speedy shipping times are two of the ways you can get UK consumers to complete purchases on your website.

Let's face it – the British have a reputation for expecting fast and reliable shipping services, meaning it's something you need to prioritize if you're going to sell products to them. After all, you want to offer the most enjoyable and unforgettable experience that encourages them to buy from you again. When you provide that ideal experience, you can turn first-time customers into loyal supporters of your e-commerce.

Royal Mail and UPS logos
FYI, 55% of UK consumers named Royal Mail as their preferred carrier, an ultra-fast and convenient delivery experience. UPS is the preferred carrier for express delivery in the UK.

Will you ship from abroad or from the UK?

Another thing to consider is where you're planning to ship products from when selling to the UK market. You have two options – you can ship internationally or directly from the UK by investing in a UK warehouse. But which option is the best?

The delivery time will take much longer if you ship from abroad to the UK. Of course, this may be something you plan to do initially to test things out and see how well the UK market likes your products. It's a good way for you to gauge interest before going all out and investing in a UK warehouse that would hold these products and ship them out locally. 

However, if you want to make the most significant impact, shipping from the UK to UK consumers is the best way to do that. It's much cheaper than international shipping, and you wouldn't have to worry about purchases going through customs and taking several weeks or months to get to your customers. As a result, you could save on costs, your customers could save on shipping fees, and the customers would receive their items much faster than they would if you were shipping internationally.

We’ve built a step-by-step guide for you to successfully bring your D2C brand to the UK market, covering everything from logistics, localisation, British consumption habits and payment methods, and financing your global expansion.

Additional benefits of shipping locally instead of internationally

While the savings and faster shipping speeds are certainly a good enough reason to start shipping to UK consumers from a UK warehouse, there are a few additional advantages you may not know.

  • You can make the shipping process eco-friendly - Shipping internationally can take such a toll on the planet. However, if you ship locally instead of internationally, you can lower your carbon emissions - shorter distances mean speedy delivery times and greener delivery methods, instead of shipping every order by plane for both express and standard orders. And it's the kind of thing you can mention to customers who may appreciate your green initiatives!
  • The delivery process becomes much easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved - When shipping internationally, you have so much to worry about, including when your customers will receive their packages and how long those items will be stuck in customs. However, if you ship locally, you don't have to stress over that. In addition, the customers can get their products when they want and need them, improving their experience and increasing their likelihood of leaving positive reviews or creating user-generated content on your brand.

What will you need to start selling in the UK?

Don't forget to list everything you will need to begin selling to UK consumers. For example, you will need an Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number, also known as an EORI number. It can take up to 12 weeks to obtain one, so apply for it as soon as possible to avoid further delays. Along with this number, you will need to apply for a UK VAT number and create an account on the UK Government Gateway.

An example of a valid EORI number.

Take the time to learn about the specific requirements of shipping to your UK customers. Once you know what you need to have to legally begin selling and shipping products to them, you can focus on building UK-inspired marketing campaigns designed with these audiences in mind.

How to connect with UK consumers and entice them to buy from your e-commerce 

After you have everything you need to start selling to the UK ecommerce market, it’s time to begin building relationships with the UK consumers. These are some of the simplest ways to do that:

  • Create a UK-friendly version of your website - While many people in the UK speak English, the spelling of words can differ. Be sure to make a UK-friendly website with all the correct spellings to provide a more inclusive feeling to the consumers.
  • Build a campaign for the UK consumers - What works with consumers in America or your local market doesn't always capture the attention of those in other countries, so be strategic and create a marketing campaign specifically for your UK consumers. Think of how your products can make a difference in their lives and use that to your advantage when creating marketing materials.
  • Connect with social media influencers from the UK - Start reaching out to UK influencers to see if they'd be willing to partner with your brand. You can offer to send them products for free, enabling them to start making influencer-generated content that they will post on their favorite social platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok. When they start posting to these platforms, it can help increase awareness for your brand and lead to many more sales.
Gymshark is used to create amazing ads campaigns highlighting influencers and with a strong storytelling.
Get inspired by the campaigns of the best local brands, like Gymshark.

With straightforward steps like these, you can begin catering to the international market, broadening your reach, and building a name for your brand in an entirely new country. You can turn this into an exciting opportunity to connect with UK consumers, providing high-quality products they will love. Launching your e-commerce in the UK is a wise move to make, especially if you’d like to start selling more and increasing your earnings. By taking the right approach, you can begin selling to this new market and gain thousands of loyal customers.