UK Trade & Investment has today launched a package of support to help British retailers and brands expand overseas via ecommerce.
The measures, to be announced by trade minister Lord Livingston at trade show Autumn Fair at Birmingham NEC, will aim to help fashion retailers and brands tap into online selling, which is forecast to reach £60bn by 2018.
The e-Exporting Programme will provide tailored advice aimed at opportunities for export-ready businesses. The UKTI has developed relationships with the senior executive teams of more than 400 international online marketplaces including Tmall China, Amazon China, Japanese ecommerce platform Ratuken and Harper’s Bazaar. The UKTI is now signing co-operation agreements with these marketplaces to help UK brands sell through them and fast-track their route to market.
Operating through these marketplaces is being presented as a cost-effective way for companies – particularly small- and medium-sized businesses – to increase their global reach.
The UKTI is also providing face-to-face meetings for UK companies to meet the leaders of these online marketplaces and is providing advice on how to use the websites more effectively.
The programme is expected to help approximately 50,000 UK companies to establish online trade channels.
The UKTI said the programme is the first of its kind in the world, as it is the only organisation to hold the information needed to work with global B2C and B2B e-marketplaces with the aim of using this information to champion exporting.
Lord Livingston said: “The UK leads the world in cross-border online sales, but there is still much more we can do to help British business seize this huge opportunity with forecasts of 3 billion online consumers in just three years.
“Trading online is a great way to start exporting to a new country, enhance distribution in an exciting market and effectively sell while you sleep. This is why we are launching the UKTI e-Exporting Programme to help businesses thrive abroad in some of the world’s largest markets. UK products are great – it’s time to take them to the world.”
The full launch follows a pilot in November 2013 that introduced British companies to Chinese e-marketplaces including Tmall, Jumei and Asos China. Following this pilot more than 100 UK brands have launched in China through an e-marketplace, including Karen Millen and Cath Kidston.
Head of international business development for Debenhams John Scott said: “Debenhams has worked closely with UKTI and is glad to see government react to how digital has transformed the retail sector with the e-Exporting Programme. We encourage more British brands to engage with online channels as Debenhams has done in order to increase its sales, reach out to customers through their chosen channel and future proof their business model.”
UK retailers including Mothercare and fashion brands Emma Willis and Matthew Williamson have also endorsed the measures.