Supply chain · 28 April 2016

Britain’s online retailers expand horizons as domestic market matures

Britain's online retailers are increasingly selling to French consumers
Britain’s online retailers are increasingly selling to French consumers

France, Germany and the US have become the foreign markets of choice for British online retailers, as the UK’s domestic online market matures and the trend towards international expansion amongst smaller online sellers grows stronger.

According to a new report released by ecommerce service provider Volo Commerce, the total volume of exported merchandise to France registered a year-on-year growth of 19 per cent in the first three months of 2016, whilst Germany and the US experienced a ten per cent jump in the number of products delivered from the UK.

Online sales ballooned drastically in the UK in the same period, growing by 27 per cent, as consumers spent most of their money on electronic items and technology, motor vehicles and fashion items.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Volo Commerce CEO Paul Watson said: “The domestic market is still a very important target for our business customers, but the online market is approaching maturity and the sales tactics of local competition is increasingly aggressive.

“In the past year we have seen a strong trend of international expansion and an eagerness for exploring growth opportunities in other countries,” he added.

The most successful products categories in France and the US were fashion, motor vehicles and products for the home and garden. In Germany, however, consumers chose to buy more electronic and technological items than home and garden ware. Ebay, Amazon and sellers’ own websites remained the three most popular online marketplaces in each country.

So far in 2016, health and beauty has proved the most popular product category amongst online consumers. Those products saw year-on-year growth of 33 per cent with sport and leisure and toys and games also proving high selling categories, showing a 25 per cent and 24 per cent rise in online sales respectively.

Volo’s research also showed a gradual increase in the average online order value amongst consumers in these countries. In Q1 2016, the average online order value went up from £22.51 to £24.59 – a nine per cent increase on the same period in 2015.

Read on for further research on how half of the UK’s smaller online retailers are confident about prospects for 2016.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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