Ohh Deer store
Ian Harrison, Head of Exports for the Midlands Region at the Department for International Trade explains how businesses can make the most of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday boom.
Just five years ago, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were strictly US-only events. Now they are anticipated by bargain hunters the world over and represent huge potential for businesses of every size.
The scale of the opportunity is clear. In 2017, SaleCycle reported that 91% of retailers took part in the bonanza across the UK - with £1.4bn of revenue being raked in via online sales according to IMRG, the UK's Online Retail Association.
Tapping into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday buzz may feel daunting for smaller or local retailers. However, there is potential for businesses of every size, and this is a timely prompt for Midlands businesses to consider their online selling strategy, especially if they are looking to grow their overseas sales.
Selling online helps reduce the costs of exporting by eliminating the need to have staff on the ground in overseas markets. And it doesn’t have to mean enormous investment in your website to make it happen.
Online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Cdiscount (France) and Alibaba (China) plus many more are all accessible and well-established platforms for small businesses to reach a global audience and mean they don’t have to host and manage their own sales platform.
Almost three quarters (74%) of businesses in the East Midlands have saved time by selling online and 55% report saving costs too, according to Lloyds Bank UK Digital Index – so if you thought exporting would be too much time or effort for your business, it’s time to think again.
Ohh Deer is one local business that has successfully developed an e-commerce strategy to reach a global audience by selling through Amazon, as well as its own website.
Founded in 2011 by Mark Callaby and Jamie Mitchell and initially based out of Jamie’s grandparents’ attic, the Loughborough-based company now has nearly 50 employees and still produces all of its greeting cards, stationery and clothes in the UK. It exports across the globe and collaborates with huge international brands like ASOS and Urban Outfitters.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) has worked closely with Ohh Deer since 2014, advising on its overseas growth strategy, funding overseas trade show visits and supporting its research into new markets. DIT has also been on-hand to help them with any difficulties they’ve come across while exporting, including tricky customs legislations.
As a result, Ohh Deer has expanded its range of cards by more than 600% in the last four years and overseas sales now make up 40% of the business’ revenue.
Of course, the exporting process is not without its hurdles, even with the low-cost, low-risk route of online marketplaces.
To help businesses in the area start selling online, DIT has a range of support on offer.
Its Selling Online Overseas Tool is a free-to-use, online service that can be found at great.gov.uk. It can be used to connect with, prepare and sell on global online marketplaces.
There are also dedicated e-commerce advisers (ECAs) right here in the region to assist companies facing very specific e-commerce challenges such as trade registration, website URL registration, packaging, shipping and payment, tax registration and marketing.
The UK online export market is already the third largest in the world and it’s time for Midlands businesses to get a slice of the action.
Companies who want to find out more about exporting should get in touch with the East Midlands DIT office to speak to one of the local ECAs or international trade advisers.
Companies can find information on the Selling Online Overseas Tool and a current list of opportunities through visiting great.gov.uk or contacting DIT East Midlands on info@tradeEM.co.uk or 0345 052 4001.
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