Building an online business by selling into overseas territories

Cas Paton, CEO and founder of OnBuy, provides insight and reassurance to retailers that 2021 can still be the year that they crack the overseas market, despite the arrival of Brexit

Worldwide, eCommerce sales are growing year on year, and consumers switching to online shopping during Covid-19 has accelerated this growth. If you want to expand your reach, boost your sales and stay ahead of the competition, now’s the time to think about expanding into international markets. After all, the UK eCommerce market is worth £132bn while the global eCommerce market is worth £3.01 trillion

Many sellers are wary of expanding their operations overseas as it can be complicated. The easiest way to increase your global presence is via a trusted online marketplace – like OnBuy, where you can sell in complete confidence, knowing we don’t compete against you by selling our own products. We’re about to embark on a worldwide scale-up into more than 140 countries by the end of 2023, meaning our sellers will have easy access to a global audience.

While a UK website can be viewed from anywhere in the world, that doesn’t mean it has global appeal. One of the most common mistakes UK retailers make when selling into international territories is to assume that shopping trends are the same the world over, which isn’t the case. The spending behaviour and culture is different in each country, so your approach needs to vary when targeting different international markets. So it would be wise not to underestimate the effect of culture on retail trends and product choice.

‘Singles Day’ is a fantastic example of how shopping trends and consumer mindsets differ across the globe. Throughout Asia, Singles Day has become a national holiday in consumers’ minds. In China alone, eCommerce titans Alibaba and broke records on Singles Day 2020 by surpassing $74.1bn (£54.4bn) GMV. Notably, Singles Day is also about treating yourself, creating an air of indulgence that promotes a different manner of purchasing behaviour, rather than the more gift-giving focus of Black Friday and the festive season which are popular throughout the western world. 

Providing a location-tailored shopping experience is exactly why OnBuy is building dedicated sites for all 140+ countries, therefore maximising global growth for our sellers. OnBuy also has a network of global partnerships, including with the Department for International Trade, designed to support sellers in all areas.

If you’re ready to jump-start your international sales efforts, you need to carefully consider logistics and fulfilment. When shipping internationally, there’s a lot more to consider than when you’re shipping domestically. International fulfilment means dealing with tracking, insurance, delivery, shipping costs, customs, duties and more. 

Selling via online platforms like OnBuy provides invaluable support when faced with the added logistical considerations that come with fulfilling international orders. The OnBuy Fulfilment Network collates the best and most agile companies for businesses of all sizes and types, and not only gives sellers access to the best fulfilment options but also ensures customers feel confident in receiving their purchases safely and on time.

When building your online business, you should research the preferred payment methods in the target country and consider fraud prevention – one of the biggest hurdles to international online trade. OnBuy has a unique partnership with PayPal, which it has extended to be available globally for all transactions on the site – giving both customers and sellers using OnBuy a safer, faster and more convenient way to pay and get paid. PayPal provides payment verification and without this you could leave yourself open to chargebacks and general fraud. This is all delivered via PayPal’s internationally acclaimed security and encryption.

When you want to expand the reach of your business, grow your sales and stay competitive, the natural progression is to expand internationally. Don’t let Brexit impede your dreams of expansion; the global market is still out there for the taking. OnBuy is committed to driving massive international success for our sellers, and the journey starts right here.

Cas Paton is the founder and CEO of, the world’s fastest-growing online marketplace

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