Are the barriers simply perception?
It's been a hectic couple of years to say the very least; with the likes of Brexit and Covid-19 being the biggest disrupters of our eCommerce industry. These events have of course presented challenges, yet this period also catapulted the industry into extreme growth as purchasing habits began to shift during lockdowns, making eCommerce more necessary than ever before. In light of this shift, you will have started to think about taking your slice of the global pie and taking your online brand internationally. Our Head of Delivery, Chris White, expresses that, effectively, going global can be a much smoother process than some SME's may think, if the appropriate research is undertaken.
Now, we understand that this may feel overwhelming when you’re at the starting line and looking ahead, especially because there is simply so much information out in the world at the moment; such information may have been bias or the sheer volume of which can cause some online brands to perceive nonexistent barriers. This may have been because you were fed so many messages in late 2019 and early 2020 about changes that were constantly in flux at the time.
We can answer your burning questions
If and when you require support in terms of trading in the EU or US out of the UK, we are there for you. Chris has highlighted that, there are three of the main conversations we tend to have with our clients that have qualms about expanding internationally, because of perceived barriers such as Brexit for example. Here's how we support you and bust these three primary myths surrounding supposed international trading issues.
What schemes are available to me?
Usually there is a question of whether you as an SME retailer should make the decision to register for schemes such as the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS), or, indeed, to not. Do not let the grander of this scheme’s title put you off as this is certainly one worth considering, especially if your online brand trades lower value goods. A handful of our clients here at fulfilmentcrowd have had qualms about appointing an accountancy representative in other territories. Yet, this isn’t the case!
"That’s the key - supporting SME retailers and showing them that it’s quite easy to navigate your way around and get close to the way we used to trade in a pre-Brexit world."
All you have to do is register with one of the 27 EU tax authorities and file a monthly IOSS VAT return, with the necessary VAT payments made automatically by the IOSS scheme across other EU tax authorities where your customers are located.
The EU isn't right for me. What about other markets?
Of course you can consider other international markets if you feel that the EU isn’t the right move for you. Thinking of trading with other markets; particularly in terms of legislation and/or costs of trading in that county, can be overwhelming at the start and we get that. However, this is not always the case. Let’s look at the US for instance, Chris says:
"The US is a really big market, so don’t neglect it! We’re huge advocates for not restricting growth due to location of stock – with our growing network of 13 global distribution centres, it’s easy for us to help you expand by putting your stock into a new location and supporting you on the set up journey. Why be limited to a £60mil market when you can be in a £250mil market?”
Importing goods as an SME retailer in the United States is subject to a relatively high threshold. You won't have to pay any import charges on goods worth up to $800, thus if the value of your items is less than that, this is definitely a market worth exploring for the purpose of your eCommerce brand's international scale-up.
What can you tell me about proof of origin and customs offsetting?
Thirdly, there are rules in place in the agreements that allow you to recover a lot of the costs if you’re purchasing from the EU and shipping back to the EU, that effectively can be tariff free. The proof of origin is the element that you can build on there and there are designed elements of the deal that you can use to your advantage. If you are purchasing textiles from an EU country, bringing it into the UK to be made, and then shipping it back to that original EU country for instance, that would be tariff free in essence. As long as you’re purchasing in the EU and selling back to the EU, the deal is always the same.
"We would recommend doing your research on this and look around. Just look for those search terms around customs offsetting or proof of origin, and see whether there is something you can exploit for yourselves for the benefit of your eCommerce business."
We do absolutely understand that if you are a one man band and you’re trying to buy the materials to manufacture your product, market it, quality check, manage your social profile, the last thing you care about is doing a bit of research into whether you can or can’t claiming that little bit of money from the customs. But, it’s worth having a look at - or worth reading through forums on outlets such as this one to see what opportunities there are surrounding trading internationally and (hopefully) shining a positive light on the process of trading internationally.
Where can we take you?
If we're talking order fulfilment, then there are no limits to where we can take you as we have fantastic relationships with our network of international carriers. Our global fulfilment centres are advantageously positioned in the world's major eCommerce markets such as Germany, The Netherlands, France and the United States. Not to mention the plethora of partner distribution centres located up and down the UK. Take your slice of the pie; get your online brand established within those sought-after global eCommerce markets.