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UK e-commerce retailers urged to improve delivery

07 September 2010 - 10:21 by Sarah Collinson

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Online retailers from the UK are performing well, but experts believe that more can be done to draw in new customers, particularly from international destinations and some recommend that a greater emphasis is placed on improving delivery.

A report funded by the Royal Mail and conducted by Snow Valley, has concluded that e-commerce firms based in the UK are failing to offer international delivery options for customers carrying out safe shopping online from overseas.

The study also found that even the retailers who do offer international shipping, are making things more difficult for customers, with inadequate information, extra fees and slow delivery periods.

E-commerce is still finding its feet in the international marketplace, with a recent survey concluding that seven per cent of EU consumers carry out safe shopping online with retailers located in different nations. But experts believe that there is room for big expansion and are concerned that UK retailers could get left behind if they do not improve their international delivery services.

Snow Valley's study points out that 28 per cent of online retailer ASOS's sales are generated by international customers, netting it £56 million in 2009. It also found that international customers made bigger average orders than those living in the UK, presumably to take advantage of collective shipping costs.

Some UK retailers are bringing better international capabilities to their online outlets and House of Frasier recently opened up its store to international orders, with two per cent of its online sales now going to consumers overseas.

Snow Valley took a practical approach to assessing UK e-commerce retailers against their international competition by ordering products from firms based in 15 different countries.

It found that 42 per cent of UK retailers did not offer international delivery, compared with 43 per cent who did. Five per cent only deliver within the EU and 57 per cent of those that deliver worldwide did not show the additional costs at checkout.