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June 18, 2013

E-commerce set to help European retailers overcome expansion challenges

Study by cloud-based e-commerce solutions provider finds retailers expect to overcome expansion challenges within two years.

By Duncan Macrae

ChannelAdvisor, a provider of cloud-based e-commerce solutions that enable retailers and manufacturers to increase global sales, has announced the results of a market survey indicating that many European retailers are planning to expand internationally within the next two years, yet still view the UK and continental Europe as the best commercial opportunity for e-commerce.

According to the research, conducted at Catalyst Europe 2013, a leading European e-commerce event, 17% of European retailers are anticipating expansion into Asia within the next two years (in addition to 17% that are already selling into Asia), compared with 21% who expect to expand into North America (in addition to 34% that already sell into North America). It is also expected that a further 13% of European retailers will expand to South America in the next two years, increasing from the 23% who currently operate in this region today. However, retailers are not overlooking the UK and European e-commerce markets. The retailers surveyed are very active in these ‘home’ regions with 91% active in the UK and 71% active in other European countries.

This research is in line with findings recently published by Forrester, who announced that 8 -10% of online sales in the UK are cross-border. The IMRG also recently reported that cross-border sales in Europe are set to reach €36bn in 2013, while e-commerce sales in AsiaPac grew more than 33% to $332bn in 2012.

Zoe Ripley, marketing director, EMEA for ChannelAdvisor, said: "It is extremely positive to see that retailers have not simply adopted a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach to international expansion, and are instead weighing up their options for cross-border trade.

"As we can see, a substantial percentage are already centring their e-commerce activity in the UK, Europe, Asia and North and South America, with more expected to venture into these markets in coming years. After the practical advice and workshops at Catalyst EU, attendees and ChannelAdvisor customers alike are equipped with the tools and services to fuel their expansion plans and cross-border trade strategy."

Peter Lilley, director and Co-owner of Trueshopping, said: "The cross-border trade opportunity for Trueshopping is huge, with 40% of our online sales coming from overseas today. Listing internationally through ChannelAdvisor takes a fraction of the time and has allowed us to be more agile and smart in our international activities."

Ripley added: "The opportunity is significant for those retailers who successfully crack new markets, and retailers should be aware of all the options and opportunities before expanding. For example, testing your offering through marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon can be a convenient and economical way to make the step toward overseas trading."

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‘Start here, go everywhere’ was the central theme of Catalyst Europe, which took place on June 3-4 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London. Cross-border trade was a core focus of this year’s event with three dedicated tracks, running across two days, catering to all levels of e-commerce expertise, with speakers from eBay, IMRG, Meridian Global Services, Royal Mail, WorldPay, Debenham’s Direct and Littlewoods Clearance.

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