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Fashion drives UK online trade surplus

The UK had the highest online trade surplus in the world last year, driven by strong demand for British fashion from overseas customers.

The UK had an estimated ecommerce trade surplus of £720m in 2013, ahead of the US and Germany with £110m and £12m respectively, according to a report from Google and management consultants OC&C Consultants.

Trade surplus is when a nation’s exports exceed imports. In the case of this research, UK etailers sold more goods to overseas customers than were purchased by British consumers from etailers companies outside of the UK.

The UK’s online export success was led by the fashion sector, with Asos, Net-a-Porter, Farfetch and Topshop among the most sought-after UK retailers by international buyers, found the report.

UK retailers are increasingly turning their sights on international growth, with many launching sites with multi-language options and dedicated country sites.

Asos is considered to be one of the leaders in this space, with the etailer operating sites in the US, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Italy, Australia and China.

Google director Peter Fitzgerald said: “The global increase in the number of people with internet access coupled with a rise in consumer confidence, combine to provide the ideal market conditions for ecommerce. The success of UK retailers can partly be attributed to operating in the most advanced ecommerce market in the world, but also to the high level of trust international customers have in UK brands and retailers. Looking to the future, any retailer wishing to enter the market must adopt a digital-first strategy to succeed.”

OC&C partner Anita Balchandani said: “As a market matures, and new pockets of demand emerge, localisation will be crucial - from tailoring the range on offer, to ensuring that delivery and payment methods work for each market.”


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