Cross-border ecommerce

What are the Implications of Brexit for Cross-Border E-commerce?

E-commerce in the UK is an unrivalled success story. Much to the ire of the high street retailers, the domestic e-commerce market is the largest of any country in the EU. British consumers shop more often and spend more than any others in Europe, with 86 percent of internet browsers making at least one online purchase in 2017.

Unfortunately, a little-known phenomenon called Brexit could be the potential stumbling block that threatens to bring the e-commerce success story to a shuddering halt.

What will Brexit mean for domestic e-retailers?

That’s undoubtedly a question that will have crossed the minds of e-commerce operators across the UK. You’ve worked your backsides off to create a successful and profitable e-commerce business. You’ve risen to the top of the search engines, have received endless positive reviews and established yourself as a trusted retailer. Now, something you have no control over threatens to undo all your hard work.

  • Will Brexit affect your sales overseas?
  • Will you have to comply with new regulations?
  • Will UK shoppers buy more goods from domestic sellers?

These are all very good questions. Unfortunately, with the ongoing Brexit turmoil, we don’t have solid answers for you as of yet. However, what we do have is opinions and predictions from the experts at the European eCommerce and Omni-Channel Trade Association (EMOTA) to hopefully bring you some peace of mind.

EMOTA is the European federation that represents online retail across Europe. We asked EMOTA a few questions about the potential implications of Brexit for cross-border e-commerce and sales within the UK.

What does a no-deal Brexit mean for online sellers?

Currently, a no-deal or ‘hard Brexit’ seems like the most likely scenario. In that instance, we expect to see serious disruptions in cross-channel trade as all products have to pass customs, product conformity procedures and other potential hurdles. The likelihood is that it will cause long delays for customers who are waiting for their parcels to be delivered. More problematic still is likely to be the issue of returns. With return rates of up to 50 percent in some product categories, the likely delays could lead to dissatisfied customers and a serious downturn in sales.

What are the implications for cross-border e-commerce in Europe?

In the months following the EU referendum, many UK online retailers actually saw an increase in sales as a result of the falling pound against other major currencies. However, according to the IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index, there was a slowdown in online sales towards the end of last year, with delivery volumes lower than forecasted.

The trouble is that if shoppers are looking for the lowest price, UK retailers will always lose out to China. Moreover, EU shoppers also have to pay customs duties on goods from the UK, and in some competitive product categories such as clothing, these fees can be high. That can negate savings that EU customers might have made due to the weakening of the pound.

Which regulations will be affected?

Many important pieces of EU legislation affect cross-border e-commerce, including the recent GDPR rules, the Consumer Rights Directive, cross-border parcel delivery, a directive banning geo-blocking and more. The UK will not change EU laws that have been accepted and made into national laws, which will make life easier for UK e-commerce businesses. Over time, it may also be the case that domestic legislation is introduced that will be advantageous to British firms.

What are the biggest challenges facing online retailers?

The biggest challenges facing UK e-retailers in a post-Brexit world are undoubtedly the duty and delivery issues. While larger operators will be able to solve this problem by opening fulfilment centres in Europe, smaller operators will struggle until the terms of Brexit are ironed out and it’s business as usual once again.

Helping cross-border businesses thrive, whatever Brexit brings

At Linguistica International, we are dedicated to helping British businesses trade overseas, whatever the future brings. Call 02392 987 765 or email to discuss your translation, transcreation, copywriting, proofreading or telephone interpreting requirements.

How Catering for Minority Languages will Drive Online Sales

How Catering for Minority Languages can Drive Online Sales

English has long been the lingua franca on the web, but as more and more of the world’s population go online, that dominance is diminishing. The proportion of online content in English has shrunk to around 30 percent, while Chinese, Spanish, German and French content is increasing. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, Chinese content grew by a whopping 1,277 percent. But that’s not the growth area we’re interested in.

With global populations increasingly participating online, new audiences are being created who do not speak the 10 most commonly used languages. This is creating an opportunity for what marketers like to call ‘quick wins’.

The growth of online minority groups

Every day, around a million people go online for the first time ever. Much of the English-speaking market is already online, which means that many of those new browsers are minority language speakers. The Indian market is a prime example. In India, a mind-blowing 450 languages are spoken across the country. Although all of those languages are not spoken by an equal proportion of the population, they still represent an opportunity for astute online businesses that are willing to cater for their linguistic needs.

In India, Netflix offers its content in English and Hindi, which are the country’s two most commonly spoken languages. However, local competitors have been able to steal customers away by offering their services in languages such as Tamil and Kannada. Although they are considered to be minority languages, they are still spoken by tens of millions of people.

Tremendous untapped potential

One of the main benefits of targeting speakers of minority languages online is that very little competition exists. The online market in English-speaking countries is saturated with websites that already target those consumers, which makes it time-consuming and costly to produce content that will be able to compete. In much less established online marketplaces, you could create a native language website that jumps straight to the top of the search engine rankings for your key terms and generates traffic instantly.

However, that’s not to say there aren’t also challenges associated with this approach. These new audiences are likely to be novice internet users, which means that their specific needs can be hard to cater for. They may also be based in countries that are difficult to reach in terms of getting your products to their door. For example, in Iran, there are year-on-year internet growth rates of over 130 percent, but trading in such a market could be tremendously complex.

Significant rewards for those willing to take the risk

Despite the costs and complexities associated with targeting minority language markets, for those businesses that are willing to take the risk, the rewards could be huge. The key is to cater for the target market by using native-language content that’s culturally appropriate and engaging, which is precisely where we can help.

At Linguistica International, we can translate and transcreate your existing copy into minority languages, or use our copywriting service to create original content that grabs the attention of your target market. Call 02392 987 765 or email to discuss your requirements with our team.