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UK retailers offer inconsistent international deliveries

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UK online retailers are making it easier for overseas shoppers to buy from them, a new study has found. But the service international shoppers can expect still varies tremendously, and is often very different from the service that traders offer UK customers, found MICROS-Retail’s 2012 International Retail Delivery Report.

The Royal Mail sponsored report saw online shoppers in 14 countries test the delivery service of 83 UK retailers, at a time when many UK retailers are now looking for growth overseas.

The report found some 38% of UK retailers delivered online orders only in the UK, compared to 49% who deliver worldwide. A third (33%) of retailers let overseas customers shop in their own currency, up from 19% in 2010, while 39% of orders were placed on a site that allowed the shopper to buy in their own language.

But 82% of retailers gave overseas buyers no choice of delivery, 33% of deliveries were made by the local post service, and only 58% of orders arrive in the time specified on the website. Only 7% of retailers offered free delivery over a certain order value, while 32% said a local payment option was missing.

When it came to returns, 82% of shoppers who tested returns had to send the item back at their own expense, and refunds took from two to 36 days to come through.

Sarah Clelland, marketing manager at MICROS-Retail, said: “The report shows that there is still a huge amount of variation in what overseas customers can expect from UK online retailers. Delivery charges to the Far East, for example, ranged from free to £50, and the actual delivery times varied from three days to 18 days.

“However, our research also shows that consistency of service is possible. As a control test, shoppers in 11 countries placed an order on one well-known UK retailer’s website and that retailer managed to deliver to France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Canada, China and Japan within four days.”

Mark Thomson from Royal Mail said: “It is encouraging to see progress in this year’s International Delivery Report. 33% of the shoppers could shop in their local currency, compared to 19% in 2010 and 18% of the retailers offered a choice of standard or express delivery compared to 10% previously. This is undoubtedly a good sign. There is still a long way to go, however.”

The countries included in the report were Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Ireland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the USA.

The report can be downloaded free of charge from

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