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Small online retailers look to Europe and beyond to expand international sales

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Small online retailers are looking to Europe and even further beyond as they look to build their international sales, a new study suggests.

More than half (56%) say they aim to increase international sales in new and existing markets this year, according to Royal Mail’s annual tracker study into their ambitions.

Some 48% of small digital traders aim to sell their products in the Eurozone in 2016, up from 30% in 2015. But businesses are looking still further afield. Almost a third (30%) believe the USA will offer the greater opportunities in the coming year, while 23% say Australasia will do that. More than a quarter rate Asia for signficant sales opportunities, up from 12% a year earlier.

However, 40% are deterred from expanding their exports by a lack of knowledge, while 23% said shipping to international markets was too complex.

Richard Snowdon, international director at Royal Mail said: “Royal Mail’s annual tracker of small online retailers shows that there is a huge appetite for exporting among UK small businesses. But it also shows that over a third could be missing out on sales by not actively promoting their international capabilities to encourage foreign custom. We believe that 2016 could be the year that exporting becomes big business for small online retailers in the UK and we have a range of international delivery options designed to make this process as simple as possible.”

The study comes as UKTI is running an Exporting is GREAT campaign.

UKTI chief executive Dr Catherine Raines said: “We know that companies that export are more profitable, more productive and more innovative so I am delighted that over half of UK online SMEs are looking to increase their international trade in 2016.”

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