New opportunities in multi-channel retailing are opening up overseas where forward-thinking firms are translating good ideas into bottom line growth. Looking for opportunities for growth? The world is a big marketplace and it’s never been easier to sell your products globally. With increased competition in the UK, businesses of all sizes are now identifying growth opportunities in overseas markets.

imy sandy

Rise in total value of exports:

  • 2009: £103,226m
  • 2011: £124,881m, an increase of 21%

Source: Monthly review of external trade statistics, Office for National Statistics, Sept 2012

Chinese shoppers have surpassed shoppers in the United States as the world’s top luxury good spenders. According to a survey of 4,600 consumers, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci – all imports – are the top three brands.

Source: Bain & Company 

The internet is removing barriers to international sales, allowing multi-channel retailers of any size to sell to customers anywhere in the world.

Here’s what business owners need to consider before they move into export markets: 

Channels making it easy to market and sell internationally such as Amazon which is growing at three times the rate of e-commerce and is the world’s fastest growing e-commerce channel.

  • 30% of online shoppers research Amazon before buying
  • eBay is also breaking down barriers to selling internationally, and requires minimal investment.
  • eBay and Amazon account for 70% of the mobile commerce market

Source: Mobile Commerce Daily, Forrester research discussed on

Leading retailers are using social media to communicate with their customers globally – 3 out of 4 of the top 100 brands are on Google+

Source: BrightEdge study results discussed on Search Engine Watch

Talking about exports, John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “To kick start growth, it’s vital more firms expand into fast-growing markets. We have made some inroads, but must take advantage of the wealth of business opportunities out there.”

Source: UKTI

Why go global?

In its Export for Growth 2012 report, UKTI found that companies selling internationally:

  • Are more productive than non-exporters
  • Are more resilient to economic downturn
  • Counteract issues like seasonality
  • Find exporting can drive product innovation
  • Perform more strongly financially.

Source: UKTI facts, quoted in the Language Wire eBook Retailer’s guide to going global.

Questions successful firms answer before selling overseas:

  • How will we overcome language and culture barriers?
  • Will our product need adapting for foreign markets?
  • How will we deliver the goods?
  • When will we get paid, and how?
  • Does our multi-channel system have the flexibility and functionality required?

“If you become an exporter, evidence shows that you are likely to improve your productivity by a third in your first year alone.”

Mark Prisk, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, quoted in the Language Wire eBook Retailer’s guide to going global. 

Top 5 UK export markets (September 2012 figures)

  • USA     £10,526m
  • Germany     £7430m
  • Netherlands     £6204m
  • France      £5633m
  • Irish Republic     £4410m

Source: Monthly review of external trade statistics, Office for National Statistics, Sept 2012 

To manage growth, successful exporters invest in their internal systems and multi-channel software:

  • Marketing – generating additional sales through targeted campaigns.
  • Stock control – avoiding missed sales opportunities by maintaining stock levels in real-time.
  • Warehouse operations – cutting costs by processing orders faster and with lower error rates.
  • Customer service – integrated systems giving a single view across a multi-channel operation.

UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) is helping firms sell more overseas:

More than half of British businesses which work with UKTI achieve additional sales of £600k within two years. Firms which worked with UKTI grew annual sales by an average of 5.5%, and 90% of these firms were SMEs.

Source: UKTI

Multi-channel international trading is one of the best ways for a retailer to grow. See how these companies grew using the apt software in this guide –  How to guide: smaller retailers which became multi-channel success stories. 

Originally posted on the Sanderson Multi-channel blog.