Brexit for ecommerce businesses

A woman takes payment for an online order from the EU

The UK is the largest ecommerce market in Europe, and UK businesses sell online across the EU. Brexit is set to have a significant impact.

The extent to which you are affected by Brexit will depend on where your customers are.

If you only sell to UK customers, the impact should be limited. However, be aware that there will be changes for any sales to Northern Ireland. You can find government guidance on moving goods to Northern Ireland and get free help from the Trader Support Service.

If you sell to EU customers, you may face significant changes to shipping costs, delivery times, customs procedures and so on. At the same time, EU consumers may feel less comfortable buying from a non-EU supplier. These changes are likely to make you less competitive, and your sales to EU customers may fall as a result.

You need to think about how Brexit is likely to affect your suppliers and customers. While EU demand may fall, you might find that UK customers become keener to buy from you, rather than from competitors based in the EU. If you only make minimal sales to the EU, you might decide to focus on the UK market. Or you might want to use this as an opportunity to grow into other, non-European markets.

Think through the practical steps you may need to take:

  • Make arrangements to handle export procedures for exporting to the EU.
  • Check details of any restrictions or tariffs for the products you sell.
  • Keep up to date with Brexit updates from any couriers you use, such as Royal Mail.
  • Check the guidance and services offered by any platforms you sell through, such as Amazon or eBay.
  • Change your shipping/pricing policies to take account of extra costs and taxes.
  • If you make substantial EU sales, consider setting up an EU operation or warehousing facility, or working with an EU distributor who can handle this for you.
  • Plan your marketing – for example, to convince EU customers to keep buying from you or to attract new UK customers.
  • Think through the implications for your sales, stock levels, financial position and so on.

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