As brands and retailers comb through and consider their e-commerce options in the wake of Brexit and COVID-19, one market is proving particularly lucrative: the US.
Consumers in the US have long been browsing and making purchases on marketplaces. But the acceleration of e-commerce spurred by the pandemic brought even more sales records, with Amazon reaching $309 billion and eBay achieving over $38 billion in sales in 2020. Smaller online retailers, such as Wayfair and Kroger with more than $11 billion in sales each, also saw record purchasing activity. And enthusiasm for online shopping shows no sign of stopping. By 2024, e-commerce transactions are predicted to encompass 20.6% of all US retail spending.
Gaining Buyers Beyond Borders
How much of that sales activity can UK merchants access? The answer might surprise you. According to the Department for International Trade, US consumers spend an annual £12.5 billion on UK goods and services online.
Like elsewhere across the globe, the shopping and purchasing habits of US consumers have been dramatically affected in the last year. Most are spending more time online now than ever before. A recent survey of 1,000 shoppers in the US found that 91% were spending the same or more time shopping on Amazon, and 88% were spending the same or more time shopping on other marketplaces (such as eBay, Walmart, Target or others).
And, with an increasing percentage of online consumers who shop internationally, fewer buyers perceive a different country of origin as a barrier to a successful sale.
All of these trends combined mean one thing: opportunity. If you’re ready to expand your sales and expose your products to millions of new consumers, now is an excellent time to consider selling into the US.
Taking the Devil Out of the Details
However, even if profitable possibilities beckon and conditions are right for expanding your business, the day-to-day reality of selling across borders can be … complicated. From duties to taxes, fulfilment to customer service and more, sellers must navigate a complex world of regulations and responsibilities from a distance. Fortunately, you no longer have to manage it all alone. Many marketplaces recognise the increasing opportunities for profit from overseas sellers and have responded by providing streamlined processes for quick launch and ongoing support for the multifaceted functions of cross-border trade.
Choosing a Starting Point
The marketplaces with the highest sales and greatest name recognition in the US include Amazon, Walmart and eBay.
Because Amazon is a top destination for online shoppers in the US, you’ll need to advertise to achieve visibility. Specialised marketplace management services can help you increase return on ad spend (ROAS) and year-over-year growth even more substantially.
Amazon shoppers expect fast and painless fulfilment, so make a plan for timely delivery of your products. Ship products directly to US customers — or ship your products to an Amazon fulfilment centre, where Amazon employees will pick, pack and ship the product for you.
Already a large and rapidly expanding site, Walmart Marketplace is open to third-party sellers from around the globe.
However, Walmart closely curates its sellers — which can mean even more opportunities for those selected. To increase your chances of receiving an invitation to join the platform, identify the top-performing products in your catalogue that do not have a strong existing presence on the marketplace.
As one of the first sites to connect online buyers and sellers, eBay has a trusted and well-established reputation in the US. Sales on the marketplace continue to expand, and its overall volume moved past $100 billion in gross merchandise value in 2020.
The eBay Global Shipping Programme provides the benefit of selling internationally while shipping domestically. This option allows you to ship purchased products to a UK shipping centre, where eBay manages international postage and customs processes for you.
Once you’ve become comfortable with selling into the US via marketplaces, dozens of other options are available for you to explore to further your reach and boost sales, such as:
- And more
Are you ready to learn more about practical steps to get started on US marketplaces as a UK seller? Check out our latest eBook, How to Sell Effectively to US Consumers. It’s filled with pertinent statistics, tangible tips and key considerations to help you succeed in your transatlantic enterprises.