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Study names the UK as Europe’s largest online exporter

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Study names the UK as Europe’s largest online exporter
  • More overseas shoppers have bought from UK online businesses than any other European country
  • Department for International Trade calls the report ‘great news for Britain’
  • British companies urged to seize the opportunity and sell overseas to reap the rewards of a global marketplace
  • Case study available: UK start-up Castore has seen rapid growth in 2 years thanks to high international demand

More overseas shoppers are buying online from UK businesses than any other nation in Europe, with British goods in high demand among foreign shoppers, new research conducted by Ipsos for PayPal has revealed.

The global study found that 1 in 7 (14%) of global online shoppers have bought goods from the UK in the past 12 months.[i]

The next popular destination in Europe is Germany, with 1 in 10 (10%) global online shoppers buying from this country.

Europe’s top 5 online exporters are:

  1. UK
  2. Germany
  3. France
  4. Italy
  5. Netherlands

 Which nations are buying British?

The fourth-annual Global Cross-Border Commerce report, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of PayPal, interviewed 34,000 people across 31 countries and reveals the importance of American consumers to British businesses.

The US is the largest export market for UK online businesses. Shoppers from the US bought an estimated £12.5 billion worth of goods from the UK in the past 12 months – more than any previous year.

China has been identified as another key market for UK online businesses, buying an estimated £5.7 billion worth of products in the past 12 months.

The new research also reveals the importance of European markets to British exports, with cross-border shoppers in France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden all choosing the UK as one of the ‘top 3’ countries to buy from. 

Why are shoppers browsing abroad?

The main reason why shoppers buy from foreign countries is to seek a bargain, with 7 in 10 (72%) respondents who shop cross-border indicating that they buy from other countries because of cheaper prices.

The fall in the pound following the EU referendum, PayPal’s data suggests that this has made UK goods even more attractive.

Other reasons why consumers shop online internationally rather than in their own country include:

  • Because certain products are not available in their own country (49%)
  • To discover new and interesting products (34%)
  • Because product quality is higher from overseas (29%)
  • Because shipping costs are affordable (24%)

 What are global shoppers buying?

Globally, clothing is the most popular category for cross-border purchases, with 7 in 10 (68%) of online cross-border shoppers buying clothes from other countries in the past year. Other popular products include:

  • Consumer electronics (53%)
  • Toys and hobbies (53%)
  • Jewellery and watches (51%)
  • Cosmetics and beauty products (46%)

 How are people shopping?

The majority of online purchases are still made via desktop or laptop – but smartphone shopping is fast catching up.

Across Europe and the US, the proportion of smartphone purchases has almost doubled since 2016, with the UK’s top export markets of US and China frequently shopping on their mobiles.

In the US, 61% of cross-border shoppers have made an online purchase in the past 12 months via smartphone, whilst in China this figure is 84% – the highest of all markets surveyed.

Nicola Longfield, Director of Small Business at PayPal UK, said: “As growth in the UK economy remains modest, it’s time for all British businesses to open their doors to the international shopper.

“International shopping is increasing at a rapid pace, and this study highlights the small adjustments that businesses can make to capture more global sales. If you set a border around your business, you are simply putting a limit on your sales.

“Shoppers from Austria to Australia, Belgium to Brazil have all bought from UK online businesses in the past 12 months. With the UK punching above its weight and leading Europe when it comes to global ecommerce, we hope that other businesses are encouraged to sell their products online and overseas.”

PayPal has been helping to enable British businesses to sell overseas for 15 years in over 200 markets and 25 currencies.

Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for the Department for International Trade, said:

 “PayPal’s global study is great news for Britain – a clear sign of the strong demand for our goods and the success that UK retailers are already having online.

“To build on this achievement, the Department for International Trade is making it easier and cheaper for UK firms to sell online to customers around the world – with face-to face support from our eCommerce Advisers, negotiated preferred rates on online marketplaces and information via great.gov.uk.

“Our recently published Export Strategy sets out our ambition to grow exports as a percentage of GDP to 35%, and getting more UK firms to sell online is key to achieving this.” 

 Castore: a cross-border case study

Castore, a premium sportswear brand, was created in Liverpool by brothers Tom and Phil Beahon in 2016. Thanks to strong exports, the start-up has rapidly expanded over the past two years.

Castore has forecast that its sales will rise to £2.7m this year, up from £750,000 in 2017. More than half of its total sales in the past three months has come from North America and Asia. 

Tom Beahon, co-founder of Castore, said: “The speed and ease of online buying and selling has changed the retail game. It’s meant that UK start-ups have been able to quickly grow and thrive on a global scale.”

PayPal’s report suggests that the future is bright for UK companies, with 2 in 5 (42%) of global online shoppers saying that their spend would increase over the next 12 months. 

Barriers for consumers who shop online

A quarter of global cross-border shoppers (25%) cited shipping costs as the top barrier to buying from international websites; whilst half of online shoppers said that they would not feel comfortable buying from a foreign website in a different language (57%) or paying in foreign currency (47%).

To help UK online businesses tap into lucrative foreign markets, PayPal covers the cost of returning unwanted goods for international shoppers in more than 40 overseas markets including Australia, USA, France and Spain. Return Shipping on Us gives customers who pay with PayPal the option to receive a refund for the cost of return shipping to the UK on eligible purchases, with the value and frequency of claims varying per market. Limitations apply.

PayPal’s Global Sellers programme also allows UK businesses to translate, localise and launch their online web store in over 60 countries, making their products more attractive to international audiences.

If you are looking for specific insights by country, all of the data has been uploaded to the PayPal PassPort site.

[i]Source of all statistics included in this document unless otherwise indicated: PayPal Cross-Border Consumer Research 2018 conducted by Ipsos.

Business

Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers

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Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers 1
  • Modelling shows increasing the proportion of online sales by 5 percentage points would have significantly boosted retailers’ revenues during the first lockdown
  • 72% of Brits want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it full time

New data released today by global payments platform Adyen, outlines the economic gains that could be accessed by getting more UK retailers online.

Economic modelling conducted by Cebr for Adyen indicates that if the retail sector increased the proportion of turnover stemming from online channels by 5 percentage points, £68.8 billion would have been added to the economy during the first lockdown.

While retail turnover stemming from online sales has grown significantly during 2020 – from 19% to 28%[1], there is still considerable room for growth.

Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director of Adyen comments: “The UK retail sector is facing an incredibly tough quarter, so creating the link between physical stores and online channels is more important than ever. With the festive period approaching and many shoppers unable, or uncomfortable leaving their homes, establishing and maintaining a positive online experience is a billion-pound opportunity for retailers.”

The research[2] of 2,000 UK consumers found that 31% are less likely to shop in physical stores now because of positive experiences shopping online during the pandemic. Furthermore, 72% of these consumers want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it in the long term.

However, making the process of shopping online as frictionless as possible will be key to unlocking the opportunity presented by online channels. 70% of Brits say that when shopping online, the ease of use is as important as the quality of the product, and 72% won’t shop with a retailer whose website or app is difficult to navigate.

Myles Dawson concludes: “Many retailers did amazing things during the pandemic in terms of adapting and creating new experiences – it’s a testimony to their agility that 57% of Brits said their expectations of the retail sector has improved during the pandemic. The challenge now is to consistently meet these expectations going forward. With local lockdowns in place, online channels will be key to serving many consumers in the short term. However, retailers need to see the shift to unified commerce as a long-term trend. The sooner they can demonstrate agility and jump on board, the longer they’ll reap the rewards.”

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/bulletins/retailsales/august2020

2 Research conducted by Opinium Research LLP

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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need 

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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need  2

By Anna Willems, Marketing Director, Mention

A strong online presence matters.

Having a strong online presence, that involves social media is now a crucial part of all business strategies. Whether they are retail brands, sports teams, libraries or even restaurants, most companies are investing more and more in developing their digital brand image and online presence – financial institutions are no exception.

When it comes to market trends and innovation, financial institutions are first on the line. After all, we — people and companies — trust them to manage our money to the best of their abilities. And even more so than any other market, we demand secure, trustworthy, fast and user-friendly services.

Reaching such high expectations is not a given. To this point, banks and other financial institutions have no other choice but to have a perfect understanding of their market, their audience, and their needs. What they need to get there is a fail-proof online strategy.

Gaining a deep understanding of your market

One of the best things about using social media to learn about your audience is that people give unsolicited opinions. They speak their mind and share their thoughts candidly.

This is the key to help any business to learn about themselves. They get to analyze their audience’s challenges and aspirations without having to ask them directly or serve them time-consuming surveys and polls.

UK-based Asto, a company that is part of the Santander Group, is committed to helping small businesses have access to financial and non-financial tools. Asto was looking for something that could help them discover what their target audience was talking about and find opportunities to add to the conversation. Mention enabled Asto to keep on top of reviews and customer comments, which has helped us provide a better service for our customers.

Which platform suits your offering the best?

There’s no point choosing to create campaigns on TikTok if your customers don’t use it – you need to think about who they are and work back from there.

You do this by automating the process using a social listening tool. A social listening tool will help you to view your market as a whole and identify where the key conversations are happening — and, therefore, where you should be. What’s more, you will never miss any relevant mention of your institutions, products, services, or competitors.

Handling a crisis

Financial institutions need to watch carefully for negative press – social media is the first place people will go to if they feel they’re not getting the service they need. In theory, rogue employees or unhappy clients can post anything they like online to try and hurt your brand. And if their messages gain traction, you’ve gone from one person saying bad things, to thousands.

That’s why listening needs to be part of any crisis management plan. Now, sometimes, there are crises you cannot prevent. And those usually hit pretty hard.

Power of influencers

For an influencer marketing campaign to work for your financial institution, partnering with nano content creators may well be the best way to go. They’re ability to play a part in how they shape your brand story can make a huge difference when it comes to engagement and reason to believe in your service.

Many financial institutions are already leveraging influencer marketing. It’s an efficient strategy to: Build trust and gain credibility, reach out to new audiences and share engaging stories.

The online review conundrum

94% of consumers check online reviews before they decide to buy something or subscribe to a service. They need what we call social proof. It says that the more people say they use your service, the more it will look like a good service. In short, you need to show how happy people are using your service. But not all online reviews are positive.

Having said that, we find that financial institutions shouldn’t ignore negative reviews. Instead, embrace them as an opportunity to rebuild trust in your brand. Less delicately put, take the bull by the horns and turn them to your advantage. Always respond to relevant complaints (and as fast as possible). Take responsibility for what happened. Be helpful.

And ignore trolls.

Learn from the competition

Over the last two decades, a marketer’s daily life has greatly evolved. Most importantly, we now can measure everything we do, including the consequences of our actions on our business. Having said that, you can’t evaluate how well you’re doing without comparing against

others.

Truth is that 77% of businesses rely on listening to keep an eye on their competitors. What this means is that 4 in 5 of your direct competitors are likely watching each and every single step you take. And you should do the same.

Setting the trend

From staying up to date with the latest industry trends and innovations, to keeping an eye on the competitors’ newest services, to being the first to know of potential brand crises – tracking relevant online conversations lets marketing and communication professionals working for financial institutions to stay one step ahead in an industry that is leading change and innovation.

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Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay)

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Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay) 3

By Roger James Hamilton, CEO, Genius Group

Virtually every aspect of our lives has been taken over by tech, so why is it that our schools, that are educating the business leaders of tomorrow, are still operating in much the same format as they did 100 years ago?

The global pandemic put digital learning in the spotlight and an Edtech boom has ensued, with companies like Coursera, Quizlet and Udemy seeing unicorn style growth. And the market is not slowing down. The education technology (Edtech) boom will continue.

Resilience and Growth

Unicorns are defined by rapid growth. Traditionally, these companies are not overly concerned with early profitability, long-term sustainability or value creation as much as with putting their competitors out of business.

But something different is going on in the Edtech market. The unicorn has lost its appeal. When learning platform Quizlet achieved unicorn status this year, CEO Matthew Glotzbach was keen to play down the moniker reserved for start-ups valued at $1 billion or more, preferring to liken his company to a camel.

Unlike unicorns, camels are real, hardworking beasts. Respected for their adaptability to various climates, resilience, and abilities to survive for long periods without sustenance. These are all traits much better suited to weather the economic storms created by the pandemic.

Despite their considerable abilities to adapt to challenging conditions, the climate is looking particularly sunny for camels within the Edtech market. In fact, all creatures great and small have the potential to capitalise on unprecedented growth in this sector.

The nature of education makes it a traditionally slow-moving area, which renders it unattractive to some investors. Yet, the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent surge in remote learning this year triggered a flurry of uptake in e-learning platforms.

We’ve seen the adoption rate for new technologies be accelerated by events like this before. For example, the SARS crisis of 2003 contributed to the boom in China’s ecommerce industry, as quarantines lead consumers to shop online. Of course, this market trend did not slow down once quarantine restrictions were lifted. Ever since, global online sales have risen exponentially. The same is set to happen in the Edtech market.

Providing a Solution

As with ecommerce in 2003, the demand for Edtech in 2020 was already there. It has been there for years. For the past decade at least, there has been a notable need in recruitment for qualified talent in data science, coding and digital. Edtech can bridge the skills gap, not only within formal education but also for adult learners upskilling and reskilling for today’s digital world.

Similarly, the financial crash of 2008 had the effect of fast-tracking the rise of the gig economy, requiring millions more to learn entrepreneurial skills. The idea of a job for life is now a distant memory. The Edtech sector can deliver the tools to equip students of all ages with the skills necessary for creating their own opportunities, as well as exchanging knowledge and collaborating in a digital economy.

Rising unemployment, as well as competition for jobs and government furlough schemes has seen interest in digital learning courses for adults also soar during the past few months. Figures show that the corporate e-learning market is set to increase by as much as $3.09 billion between 2020 and 2024.

Roger James Hamilton

Roger James Hamilton

The Edtech boom kickstarted by the pandemic is just the beginning in a paradigm shift in how we view education and work.

Over the next 10 years, with the rise of artificial intelligence, automated technology, and augmented reality, traditional, manual and customer service based roles will diminish and there will be less need for a large workforce when computers and machines can do the role equally well.

The need for a truly 21st century education system that reflects the needs of the job market is long overdue. Edtech companies are offering solutions to many of these issues that have troubled the economy for the past decade or more.

A Different Animal

Enter the zebra (back to our animal analogies). These types of Edtech businesses will be the ones to watch within the sector. With zebra companies, there’s a sense of community and collaboration, rather than competition. They understand that there’s room for more than one superstar in a market. Zebras are herd animals after all. The zebra believes that competition is healthy for everyone involved—something to watch and use for motivation and growth. It closely observes consumer trends and continually strives to solve new and developing problems for those consumers.

For zebra companies, profit margin is vital because it is necessary for steady growth and sustainability. Revenues hover between $5M and $50M, it serves customers within a specific niche, requires annual growth capital of $100K to $1M, and generally has more than four streams of revenue.

Zebras are both black with white stripes and white with black stripes – they have a fluidity in their approach and are camouflaged at the same time. This creates a double bottom line: Zebras want to conduct real business, by solving a pressing problem in a sustainable way, whilst reacting to contemporary challenges. This too could be said of the Edtech industry as a whole.

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