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Chinese shoppers emerge as UK’s biggest online buyers

UK the biggest exporter, Chinese buyers

The UK is now the third biggest online exporter worldwide, with British goods increasingly in demand among foreign shoppers, new research from PayPal revealed recently.


Some 86.4m online shoppers bought from the UK in the last 12 months, pushing the UK into the third spot after the US and China.


The research revealed a new wave of markets eager for our products, with Nigeria and India leading the way with an estimated 5.8m and 4.9m online shoppers respectively buying British in the last year, placing them 5th and 6th in the list of online buyers of British goods.


According to the PayPal/Ipsos survey of 23,354 adults across 29 countries, shoppers in China formed the largest part of the boost, with 21.9m Chinese shoppers heading to British websites to buy their goods. Americans are the next largest cross-border consumers, with 9.1m buying products from the UK.


In light of the news that Chinese shoppers make up a quarter of UK online exports, analysts have called on British businesses to heed international consumer behaviour patterns in order to expand their international sales.


Some 59pc of Chinese consumers have bought British clothing, footwear and accessories in the last year, while 57pc said they had bought cosmetics and other beauty products. UK groceries, food, drink and alcohol were bought by 42pc of Chinese shoppers, with researchers suggesting they were attracted by the products' authenticity and higher payment security. More than half of Chinese shoppers returned to a website they have used before – stressing the importance of businesses making a good first impression on consumers.


France and Germany also made it into the UK's top four export markets, with 6m shoppers from both countries buying British.


Foreign shoppers are also tuned into seasonal promotions, with Chinese shoppers 43pc more likely to buy from foreign websites around Christmas sales, Black Friday and Singles' day.


PayPal's managing director in the UK, Cameron McLean, said there were "clear lessons for British businesses" from the latest figures. "Your customers expect to shop on websites in their own language and want to pay in their own currencies – and may buy from your rivals if you don't offer that experience," he said.


The Government anticipates UK online retail exports will reach £60bn by 2018, but analysts at Paypal warned foreign buyers are less likely to purchase products if the delivery is too costly, lengthy or the charge for returning items is too high.


Mr McLean added: "Britain is punching well above its weight when it comes to global e-commerce. Yet there are still a wealth of opportunities out there for any company willing to look beyond traditional markets and sales channels. The most successful businesses will be the ones that target less established, high-growth markets whilst also setting themselves up to capitalise on the vast, borderless potential of mobile. And if you want to crack the Chinese market, you really need to engage with your customers through hugely popular Chinese social media and messaging channels such as WeChat."



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