Cross-border E-commerce in the UK: What’s Changed?

September 16, 2021

Download Flow’s latest market guide today for an update on UK consumers’ e-commerce preferences and behaviors.

At Flow, we’re committed to educating e-commerce merchants about any changes in global market conditions. That’s why we decided to commission another multi-market research report. We conducted a similar survey in 2019 that our customers found very valuable. With the events of the past two years, we wanted to update our previous report to reflect the e-commerce landscape as it is today.

UK Shoppers Say “Yes” to E-Commerce in Record Numbers

One country that’s undergone significant changes since 2019 is the UK, one of the top 12 global markets for cross-border e-commerce. Despite Brexit and the pandemic, the appetite for cross-border shopping is high among UK shoppers. Our research shows that three-in-four UK shoppers (75%) mentioned buying products from retailers outside their home country. This was a significant increase from our results in the 2019 survey - up 9 points. 

Like many other top global markets throughout the pandemic, consumers in the UK are turning to the internet in higher numbers to shop for the things they want and need. According to Internet Retailing, “UK consumers are buying more goods online than ever, and by the end of 2021, online sales will make up almost a third (30.2%) of overall retail spending. This is 11% more than the share in 2019, pre-pandemic.” 

Know Your Target Audience: What UK Consumers Want

This is all excellent news for brands and retailers who’ve been considering the UK as a European entry point. But it’s important to understand this market’s specific preferences when shopping online. Keep in mind that UK consumers have many local brands they can choose from when making purchases. These domestic retailers will be your competitors for customer loyalty. There’s no room for providing a poor customer experience. 

Flow’s latest report, The United Kingdom: Market Guide to Cross-Border Best Practices, uses UK consumer data from our survey to paint a clear picture of what consumers in this market want. The free guide shares insights from consumers on the factors that influence their purchasing decisions, barriers that prevent them from buying from cross-border merchants, and shopping cart abandonment patterns. It even examines behavior patterns in cross-sections of UK consumers according to age and gender.

Download the guide and learn more about UK shoppers’ preferences regarding:

  • Which marketing channels are most popular (e.g., email, social media, apps)
  • Which special promotions resonate best (e.g., free shipping, discounts or sales, loyalty programs)
  • Popular payment methods (debit cards, digital payments, etc.)
  • Shipping speed and cost
  • Customer service interactions

As with any new market, the U.K. has some risks and considerations unique to this region. One of the barriers for brands and retailers entering the U.K. market is delivering a localized experience. It’s important for cross-border brands and retailers to provide seamless localized experiences to UK shoppers. 

For a more comprehensive report on how the pandemic has impacted consumer preferences in the top 8 markets (US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and China), download the 2021 Cross-Border E-Commerce Consumer Report