In this series, we are taking a close look at the current state of cross-border payments. In the first installment, we considered how the growth of cross-border commerce and globalization has changed payments forever. In this post, we are going to take a look at the first of four geos making great strides in e-commerce today: our friends in the United Kingdom.
The UK has a long-established reputation for punching above its weight. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the cluster of countries that gave the world everything from The Beatles to the television stands is right at the forefront of the burgeoning e-commerce market today.
Not content with ranking as the most lucrative e-commerce region in Europe, the UK can also lay claim to sitting third only behind the U.S. and China on the world stage—and right at the top of the tree for e-commerce spending per person. Figures from a series of recent reports by Ecommerce Europe detail how the comparatively small population of the UK, coupled with a B2C e-commerce turnover in excess of $120 billion, added up to an average customer spend of around $3,000 in 2013. Europe’s next biggest e-commerce market and most populous country, Germany, came in at $1,797 per online shopper, and the U.S. at $2,216.
Tracing the reasons for the UK’s vitality on the world e-commerce stage isn’t an exact science, but it’s beyond doubt that the natives are more than comfortable clicking the cart icon; with 73% of all adults making purchases online in 2013 according to The Paypers. It’s not only the natives, however, who are boosting the e-commerce economy of the Isles. The love of UK brands remains undimmed, with questionable exports such as Piers Morgan and Gordon Ramsey failing to dent the global appetite for a slice of something quintessentially British. The U.S. is the biggest importer of B2C goods from the UK, but the wider world’s relative comfort with the English language helped to ensure it was also the number one cross-border seller in Europe. Impressively, that cross-border market is forecasted to have a value of $42 billion by 2020, with the UK claiming an estimated 60% share.
As the B2C sector marches irrepressibly on, key players in Britain’s B2B e-commerce landscape have defined their top priorities for keeping pace with the success story. In a survey of 100 influential UK business leaders conducted by Coleman Parkes Research for a recent white paper, the most pressing concern, according to 62% of participants, was identifying the right technology to support e-commerce—with 59% also inclined to tap into the expertise of third-party solutions providers in deploying that technology. And so, it seems, the next crucial step for B2B vendors in the UK looking to boost business online will be the integration of systems that seamlessly handle the complexities of B2B transactions, and make the experience as smooth as that which B2C customers have so readily embraced.
Figure 2: Which of the following are the key challenges that you face with developing e-commerce for the business? Source: http://bit.ly/1zXHIyS
Figure 3: Do you feel that third-party solution providers and experts could assist you in any of the following e-commerce development areas […]? Source: http://bit.ly/1zXHIyS
Once upon a time, Napoleon referred to his British rivals across the channel as a “nation of shopkeepers”—a statement he claimed wasn’t intended as an insult, but rather an analysis of their adeptness in matters of money. Over 200 years later, his sentiment rings true in regards to e-commerce, with the UK building an enviable empire that shows no signs of slowing down.
Figure 4: the road to B2B e-commerce success. Source: http://bit.ly/17Q1EMu