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.

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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 venturebeat.com

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.