Overseas buyers in search of UK bargains

12th May 2017

Mike Antwoon, Sales Director

Since the Brexit vote, UK-based retailers have suffered. But, as Mike Antwoon of Hermes discovers, there’s ample opportunity to be obtained through purchases from overseas.

June will not only see Britain head to the polls following Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election, but it will also mark the first anniversary of the EU referendum.

As a result, the last 12 months have been overshadowed by political, economic and social uncertainty, which has had a huge impact on UK businesses – including the retail sector.

Economic repercussions

As the UK woke on the morning of June 24 to learn its fate, the pound slumped from $1.48 to $1.36 in just a few hours. This downward trend continued before it fell to as little as $1.21 on October 11 last year, hitting a 31-year low.

“Many retailers had to make tough decisions on whether to absorb costs or raise their own prices, which would further affect consumer confidence”

The knock-on effects of this economic turmoil were obvious, with UK-based retailers that import goods seeing their costs rocket overnight and continue to increase over the following months.

In turn, many retailers had to make the tough decision on whether to absorb those costs or raise their own prices, which would further affect consumer confidence – already at an all-time low following the Leave vote.

“Retailers have also been able to take advantage of the weak pound, which has led to a substantial rise in the number of overseas consumers visiting British websites”

However, it has not all been doom and gloom. Retailers have also been able to take advantage of the new opportunities being driven by the weak pound, which has led to a substantial rise in the number of overseas consumers visiting British websites to find a bargain.

For instance, at Hermes, we have recorded a 15% year-on-year jump in the number of parcels we deliver to locations abroad for our clients.

Recent research from FedEx Express suggests that smaller and independent retailers are pouncing on this opportunity, with more than 63% of UK-based SMEs now exporting overseas.

According to the survey, exporting revenues now account for a whopping 59% of these SMEs’ total revenues, with a third predicting revenue will continue to grow even further this year.

Global reach

This is a key reason behind our decision to provide sole traders and SME retailers with improved access to consumers based in 23 European countries.

Thanks to our new cost-effective international shipping solution, our business account holders will now be able to send products to international online consumers across Europe, with deliveries to Australia, China and the US following next month.

We will utilise our own European fleet for deliveries to Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal, providing a number of final-mile options, including access to more than 36,000 ParcelShops.

This will be supported by partnerships with trusted third-party suppliers.

I urge SME retailers to grab this opportunity and make sure they have the right marketing tools in place to attract overseas shoppers that are looking for a bargain – it beats watching endless election coverage.