David Coppock, Head of Regions for the North East at the Department for International Trade (DIT), explains how businesses can reach a global audience 24/7 via e-commerce platforms.
In an increasingly digital and connected world, online market platforms offer businesses the opportunity to grow their presence internationally, helping to boost sales and grow their brands.
As technology revolutionises selling overseas, consumer demand is changing. Wi-Fi and generous data bundles are readily accessible, and smartphones and tablets enable instant purchasing at the touch of a screen, anywhere, at any time.
Businesses have the opportunity to access global online audiences in new, targeted ways, enabling unprecedented growth potential.
The UK has the third largest e-commerce market in the world and is worth £77bna year to our economy. In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to $2.3tr, with this projected to grow to $4.88tr in 2021.
In 2017, the exports of goods and services in the North East rose 6.2% to £13bn for the year to March 2018, up 4.3% compared to the first quarter of 2017.
There are hundreds of opportunities available to North East businesses, ensuring the region continues to capitalise on its share of this expanding market.
For small businesses in particular, a key benefit of e-commerce is reducing costs. Almost instantly, you can minimise overhead expenditure; without a physical storefront, you won’t generate rental costs and you can sell internationally without the need for staff on the ground in overseas markets.
To help businesses get started with e-exporting, we work closely with many leading global e-commerce marketplaces including Amazon and eBay, as well as those dedicated to specific sectors, such as US-based tech giant Newegg.
Amazon has revolutionised the way in which we trade, allowing exporters to sell goods to global consumers 24/7, without delay in payment.
The total export figure from Amazon Marketplace sellers was nearly £2.3billion in 2017, up 28% from the previous year.
DIT recently supported the Amazon Academy in Newcastle, an event designed to help drive major growth in the North East through trading online.
At the event, Amazon demonstrated the opportunities available to both start-ups and established businesses, to increase their presence in international markets.
To ensure businesses in the North East continue to succeed in this digital economy, we have a team of International Trade Advisers ready to help businesses explore e-commerce opportunities.
Our advisers can counsel businesses on ways to become more digitised and target specific audiences online.
They can provide one-to-one support and facilitate networking events with commercial partners - including Amazon.
One firm making the most of online opportunities is Newcastle-based Bower Brands Ltd. Launched in September 2017, the business sells a range of art supplies including fabric pens online using Amazon Marketplace to target customers in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic as well as in the UK.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) worked closely with the business, advising it to look for opportunities in overseas markets.
The company is now planning to extend its range of products in line with market research and new consumer trends. E-commerce now accounts for 100% of the business’ turnover.
Businesses in the North East thinking about exporting, either through traditional means or via e-commerce, should get in touch with our team of advisers.
DIT’s E-Exporting Programme helps UK retailers and brands to export their products overseas via e-marketplaces.
There’s a real appetite for UK goods across the world, and it’s our job to help get them out there, on or offline. If Bower Brands can do it, you can too.
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