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Becoming an exporting superpower: How British businesses can expand beyond borders

International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, recently outlined his plans to make Britain a bigger exporting superpower.

At eBay we are pleased to see small businesses at the heart of the country’s exporting strategy. As a marketplace, we’re built around the businesses who trade with us, and everything we do is designed to support their success. This year alone, we saw over 1,000 Brits become millionaires off the back of their eBay stores. In total, we now support over 200,000 small businesses across the country.

When it comes to trade, our marketplace is a reflection of the country we live in – a nation of self-starters, innovators and skilled business people. Indeed, if it’s happening in the UK, it’s happening on eBay. Help from government and business is vital, but I know from meeting these entrepreneurs that they want to be the masters of their own destiny. They want more immediate action, to take them from national to international success stories.

For them, the government’s focus on SMBs comes not a moment too soon. As we face into the big economic issues of the next few years, it’s clear that these businesses will drive our economy forward.

That’s true when it comes to export targets too. Already, over 90% of those who trade on eBay export to five markets or more. They’re leading the way when it comes to selling to customers across the world – selling British fashion to Germany, car parts to Italy and electronics to Australia. When you trade through a global marketplace, the sky’s the limit – and they’re selling to a customer base of 171 million people worldwide.

We need to get more SMBs trading overseas – and eBay is a great place to start.

Our advice for capitalising on British trade centres on a few key tips:

1. Take advantage of cool Britannia

The UK has an excellent reputation around the world when it comes to retail. UK brands and businesses are held in high esteem, so use this to your advantage. Make it clear where you’re based and capitalise on selling the best of British – for example, British fashion was in particular demand following the Royal Wedding, and with The Great British Bake Off returning to our screens, we can expect an uplift for sellers offering cookery supplies.

2. Streamline payment

Distance is no object with globalised exporting, but if customers can’t pay for their goods easily, they won’t buy from you. Using a marketplace with payment systems integrated is an easy way to do this – no website required.

3. Be ship-shape

Consumers are looking for speedy delivery, low cost, and reliable shipping services. eBay sellers can enrol for free into the Global Shipping Programme; international postage charges and any applicable customs charges are automatically shown on listings and paid by buyers. Parcels can simply be posted to the UK Shipping Centre using your usual postage service along with a tracking code, and parcels can then be tracked by both buyer and seller.

4. Make the most of language translation

In the European market, language translation and local online platforms are key to engaging foreign audiences. eBay’s International Growth Programme, in partnership with translation service WebInterpret, is one way to translate listings into other languages. While shared languages, such as the US, Australia and Canada make entering these markets easier, remember to consider how consumers abroad search for your products,

Ultimately, few can reliably predict what will happen in the coming months on Brexit. But our insight into the shopping habits of thousands of international buyers, coupled with the increasing political recognition of small businesses, tells us that British businesses will continue to lead the trend when it comes to exports.

They have the strategic agility and unique approach to ensure their continued success – and we want to help more of them to thrive.

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