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The Impact and Opportunities of E-Commerce for International Trade



E-commerce could be a key opportunity for the economic development of your company - although online marketplaces are not equally developed in all areas of the world - with online sales helping companies to reach more customers, both at home and abroad.


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the number of online shoppers worldwide. It is estimated that within three months, COVID-19 had two years' worth of e-commerce sales and a majority of businesses are considering expansion into new markets.


In the graph below, we see a clear surge in total global retail sales from 2019 to 2020, with a steady 8% growth in retail e-commerce sales worldwide expected until 2024 (source www.trade.gov). This shows us an increase in online retail sales as a result of the paradigm shift that COVID disruptions have brought to the business.

The convenience of 24/7 online shopping and home delivery, along with a larger choice of products, is expected to become increasingly valuable for customers around the world.

Like consumers, small businesses are adapting to digital services such as online sales. We have experienced an acceleration of these trends and see the e-commerce boom continuing.


Online marketplaces such as Amazon enable companies to test their product before committing to setting up their own website. Today, it is possible to sell any product immediately without any special technical skills, simply and cost-effectively.


Barriers and tips


Although it has never been easier to access the online marketplace, at the same time it has never been more complicated. Compliance regulations in international trade are constantly changing, although the biggest shake-up occurred with Brexit, which made the export of goods much more difficult with customs and paperwork.


Unless you are a tax and duty specialist, the guidelines of the major marketplaces suggest working with a carrier that offers a DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) service. Another tip is to add an official EU language in your packaging such as French or German.


Are you a small business and thinking of starting to sell your products overseas?


If you are selling for the first time outside the UK, a marketplace like Amazon and its Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) service is the easiest way to put your feet in the water and test the market.


· More than 65,000 UK SMEs sell professionally on Amazon’s stores

· Around 65% of them sell their products to customers around the world

· Over £3.5 billion in export sales were recorded in 2020, a 20% increase year on year

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with British Chambers of Commerce and Amazon, is organising a roundtable to explore the challenges of using

e-commerce to trade internationally and explain how you can overcome those challenges and exploit the opportunities.

This roundtable discussion will bring a small group of business owners together, from a wide range of organisations to:

· Explore the benefits of cross-border trade.

· Share their reflections and experience of the barriers to exporting via e-commerce.

· Highlight the skills and knowledge gaps that limit a business's ability to export.

· Investigate where businesses need advice on exporting via e-commerce.

· Explore the trusted sources of information in the marketplace.

This will be a moderated discussion from which we hope to share insights into the

e-commerce export landscape with guidance and practical advice for businesses in our region.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is starting to gather interest for this event. If you are a small business or exporting products with less than £10 million turnover and would like to participate, register your interest here or email exportbritain@gmchamber.co.uk for more information.



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