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UK online retailers can clean up abroad if focused on 'hygiene' factors

UK online retailers have a significant opportunity from exporting their goods abroad but they have to be aware that a failure to focus on the hygiene factors will seriously limit their ability to capitalise. By Glynn Davis


UK online retailers can clean up abroad if focused on 'hygiene' factors

Ahead of speaking at The Retail Bulletin International Expansion Summit 2014 on March 25th, Jonathan Matchett, operations director at wnDirect, issues a warning to the many UK retailers intent on exporting their products across borders.

“Britain leads commerce and consumer behavior online but retailers need to concentrate on factors like duty, customs clearance, and back of house. The end consumer is not fussed about these things but it could spoil the delivery experience for them and result in the retailer losing repeat business,” he suggests.

Although many retailers have “upped their game” in accepting specific payments in each international market and translating into the local language Matchett says this localisation has too often failed to be carried through to the delivery aspect in these overseas markets.

“Retailers have been good up to the checkout but this needs to continue post-checkout for things like duty, import and customs requirements,” he says, adding that many of these elements are specific to each market.

He cites Argentina as restricting the import of ready-made clothing and Brazil having a ban on canes and umbrellas being imported into the country. As well as recognising these county-specific regulations Matchett says retailers also have to ensure that they have the relevant information such as product codes attached to each parcel as this ensures a smooth passage through customs.

It also provides the information that will make it possible for the item to be tracked in an overseas market by both the retailer and the end customer. Such tracking is then only possible through the retailer having an “intimate relationship with its in-country partners (couriers)”. wnDirect works with many UK retailers such as Asos to ensure these relationships are developed.

Tracking is taken for granted in the UK today but overseas Matchett says the expectations of consumers is very varied and being able to monitor the delivery of a parcel can be a novel experience for online shoppers in many countries.

By offering such services UK retailers have yet another aspect that will appeal to overseas consumers, according to Matchett, who says: “Compared with Continental Europe the delivery experience and tracking [capabilities] in the UK is two years ahead. It’s markedly better. When you combine the demand for the UK’s excellent products with this cross-border delivery expertise then it’s a winning formula.”

This formula has the potential to be very valuable as he says that although the UK is the world leader in global e-commerce it still has only 2.6% of the total market. With this big opportunity there for the taking it would be a serious mistake if the country’s retailers were to trip up on the basic hygiene factors of cross-border trade.

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