With the government currently locked in Brexit negotiations with Parliament and MPs from both sides of the house, no one is any closer to know what our trading relationship with Europe will be after March. Even worse, little to no thought appears to have been given to SMEs and online traders who are the back bone of the UK’s economy.
With the political and economic uncertainty, it’s encouraging to see that almost seven in ten UK SME online retailers are confident that their sales will increase in 2019, according to a study commissioned by Royal Mail. With global reach, Royal Mail is well placed to observe trends across the industry.
The biggest perceived challenges for UK SME online retailers in 2019 are economic instability in the UK, pricing goods competitively, attracting new customers and growing competition in the online space. 68% of retailers experienced an uplift in sales last year, compared to the previous year. However, 73% of online retailers expect costs to be higher in 2019.
The study also found 70% of UK SME online retailers currently sell overseas. These retailers sell the most to Europe, USA and Asia.
UK retailers are increasingly looking overseas to increase their sales. In 2019, 68% of UK SME online retailers intend to increase their international sales revenue. This is up from 64% this time last year. Key plans for increasing international sales revenue include: simplifying the sales/ordering/delivery and payment process (46%), selling more to the markets they already sell to (31%) and targeting new markets and countries (25%).
When asked which destinations they intend to start selling to in 2019, Europe, USA and Canada came out on top for UK SME online retailers. In terms of prospects, Europe is perceived to hold the greatest opportunity for overseas sales, followed by USA and Asia.
“Although obvious challenges exist in 2019, it’s promising to see the level of business confidence from UK SME online retailers. Retailers are focusing on the opportunities they have for growth and are looking at how to be successful both in the UK and abroad. At Royal Mail, we already support many retail businesses in delivering against these opportunities. We make exporting as simple as possible by giving UK SME online retailers the tools they need and we look forward to working with even more of these great businesses this year.”
– A spokesperson, Royal Mail