Why don’t you sell overseas?

By Dan Wilson September 5, 2016 - 11:34 pm

GlobeNew research from Royal Mail, released as part of Small Business Advice week, looks at some of the reasons why the majority British small businesses don’t sell to customers overseas. Small Business Advice Week runs from the 5th to the 11th September.

The majority of UK small businesses (60%) are not exporting abroad, potentially missing out on millions of pounds in lost revenue, says the research.

The key reasons for not selling abroad include the perceived cost and complexity of getting through customs (26%), a lack of knowledge of the market (21%) and language barriers (21%).

The scale of the potential missed revenue is illustrated by the fact that among small businesses who sell internationally, just over a quarter of their sales (26%) this Christmas are expected to come from international orders.

35% of small businesses believe Europe holds the most potential to generate new sales for their business. 28% believe the USA and North America are the most promising markets.

You can find Royal Mail’s Delivery Matters archive here.

Do you sell overseas? If so, what do you perceive as the benefits? And what are the problems? If not, why not?

  • Steve
    1 year ago

    I sell all over the world but due to the price of tracked overseas postage it limits what I can sell and the risk.

    If I sell a £20 item delivered in the UK if large letter costs for example about £2.30 the same item international untracked is about £3.70 if I send tracked its £8.25 making overseas postage too expensive.

    So its either too expensive on price of risk it never turning up or just not bother selling it over seas we sell low value under £10 and over £80 where we can absorb the tracking cost the goods priced in the middle are UK only

    • Mark
      1 year ago

      Exactly the same with me. The problem is when someone orders 2 or 3 £10 items – tracked or non tracked?

  • james
    1 year ago

    Royal Mail answered most of their own questions:

    the (actual) cost and complexity of getting through customs
    a lack of knowledge of the market
    and language barriers.

    if you have a simple product, easy to ship, go ahead.
    otherwise, nothing but drawbacks.

    we sell small/easy stuff internationally, most of our stuff isnt small/easy.

    wont even consider it on ebay, not worth the grief, being held to ransom by someone who doesnt speak english telling you the english description is wrong, and ebay agreeing with them.

  • Jon
    1 year ago

    If we could get the same deal for our post that China Post has with Royal Mail we would be laughing. Royal Mail deliver Chinese post for a pittance while charging everyone else an arm & a leg. Instead China is laughing at us all. I ordered a 99p tin opener Post FREE from China. Delivered by Royal Mail. Why has Royal Mail given China such a sweetheart deal? Do they not expect us feel cheated?

  • J
    1 year ago

    Definitely the cost to send overseas particularly for small businesses

  • 1 year ago

    At the moment I’m just using ebay GSP and have no plans to use Royal Mail.

    I don’t have to worry about the weight: Oh-no, it’s over 2kg!!! A problem for Royal Mail, but doesn’t matter on the GSP.

    I don’t have to worry about it getting delayed or lost. Once it’s got to the ebay GSP, it’s their responsibility.

    The price the buyers are getting charged for shipping on GSP seems to be the same or better than I could offer via Royal Mail. By the time I’ve had to factor in extra for VAT, ebay fees, paypal fees, Royal Mail is usually more.

    I also remember a friend who used to do about 10-20 international parcels each day, ebay sales sent via Royal Mail. If he priced for tracked, the buyers whinged and moaned. So he would cave in and send standard, so they could pay the lowest postage costs.

    His ebay message box was full of “where is my item” “when will it arrive” “can I have tracking?” It seemed very time consuming dealing with them, compared with UK buyers. While most parcels turned up eventually, there was higher number of losses compared to UK parcels. Whether honest or not, it was “refund please” from the buyers. Time and money lost.

    Eventually, the number of INRs/defects for late or lost parcels resulted in very restrictive limits getting placed on his ebay account, harsh enough that it caused problems.

    That’s not something I’d want to happen to my ebay sales and another reason I’d not want to go down that route with Royal Mail and whoever they partner with for the last leg of the delivery overseas.

    In a nutshell, it’s often the case that it’s not worth the extra hassle and extra risk pursuing overseas sales.

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