Should I sell online to overseas customers?

‘The number of overseas shoppers using their smartphones to browse UK brands has soared over the last quarter’ highlights eCommerce Week in their recent article.

We are spending a great deal of time with our clients right now helping them reach overseas customers. Given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, changes in the value of sterling and the fantastic new technology that is out there eroding distance and international borders, this is a great time for SME businesses to develop overseas trade even to far flung corners of the globe!

What is making this much easier for UK SME’s is the ease with which they can now reach overseas customers with their website, social media and email campaigns.

However, care must still be taken as there are real challenges alongside those opportunities including:

  • ‘culture’ – the further afield we go, then customers may have different needs, desire and expectations than UK customers so you need to be prepared for the unexpected!
  • Fraud – experience tells us that the risk of online fraud, especially for e-commerce businesses, can increase depending on which Country you choose to sell to. In fact there are league tables!
  • Red tape – export rules and changes in VAT policies if trading outside the EU.
  • For some countries it is difficult to get tracked and signed for parcels so if you are shipping valuable items arranging services where you can prove delivery can be prohibitive. Will the customer be willing to cover the cost?
  • Customer returns and exchanges. These are challenging enough in the UK, especially where you are selling direct to consumers, so the challenge is magnified the further the distance.  Once again, who foots the bill?

All these challenges can be overcome however with careful thought, planning, risk management processes and the correct use of technology.

Ecommerce Overseas