There is no doubt that the world's consumers are now truly within the reach of British brands. Statistics reveal that ecommerce in the UK is driving a bigger slice of domestic sales than in the US, 11% in 2013 vs. 7.3%. This trend extends across the globe, as we see international online sales for British brands outstripping other markets. A report by OC&C and Google in January declared the UK as the leader in driving an ecommerce trade surplus of over a staggering £720M, vs. £110M in the US and only £12M in Germany. This speaks to the incredible organization, strategy, and execution of legacy and pure play eretail brands in the UK. It also reflects the power and recognition British brands have among the world's consumers and our ability to adapt to local needs and tastes.
Many of our clients already attribute over 50% of their online sales to distant markets, a significant change from two to three years ago when over 80% was down to UK buyers. The change has been fast and furious, with the most agile brands having mastered it early and now reaping the benefits.
We are in the early stages of a complete transformation of local British business. Driven by the Internet, globalization, and the rise of emerging markets, access to the products Britain loves to sell is rapidly increasing.
The sophistication of the UK market, whereby both brands and consumers have adopted technologies and channels much faster than most, has helped UK companies export the products, systems, and experience abroad to pioneer cross-border sales. The experience base is now growing at such a pace that the broader retail industry is riding off the coattails of the early rush and seeing results too.
There is little that is secretive in this success, which might prevent all British brands from building an international business. The barriers are not low, and neither are they cheap, but they are clear and present. It boils down to insights and logistics (a deep pocket is of course handy too).
Realizing this huge potential, the British government has set up a two-year action plan to help 1,000 companies build their export business. However, the key to perfecting this for your business is to get someone on board who has gone through this expansion with another brand; there's nothing that beats in-house experience.
Externally, we're seeing the emergence of experts in this field; private advisors are growing in number, and so too are tech platforms (eg Tictail) that enable brands to get product lines online in a scalable way.
Lastly, the marketing industry has an extremely powerful role to play in your journey. There are some genuinely international outfits that will provide help on the ground and give truly personalized advice and solutions to brands seeking success in new markets. The best of these will join you and enjoy returns on a performance basis, so even the smaller companies can scale without betting the house up front. This partnership is essential in building long-term success; after all, taking your brand into new markets is no short-term affair. Building the understanding, trust, and loyalty of new consumers takes time, and the best of our British brands have proven they can do that already.