UK SME online retailers have expressed confidence in the year ahead with 74% anticipating sales will increase in 2018, according to a study commissioned by Royal Mail.Some 70% of retailers asked said they had experienced an uplift in sales in 2017 compared to the previous year.
The health and beauty sector saw the highest increase in sales with 78%, followed by electronics (73%).
Increasing their social media presence (43%), running more promotional offers (39%) and introducing new products/services (29%) are the main ways retailers are planning to achieve growth in 2018.
Of those asked, 27% of retailers said their main concerns were the ability to make a profit, while 26% were worried about how they would increase sales and 23% said they wanted to reduce costs (23%).
Some 69% of retailers revealed that they expected costs to be higher in 2018 with purchasing (34%), logistics/delivery (32%) and advertising (27%) being the main worries.
The study also found 68% of UK SME online retailers currently sell overseas; 80% of these retailers sell to Europe, 35% sell to the USA, 31% to Canada and 17% to Asia.
In the fashion sector, 88% sell to Europe, 53% to the USA, 28% to Canada, and 25% to Asia. In the electronics sector, 78% sell internationally, followed by 72% of health and beauty and 67% of fashion retailers.
The most popular European destinations to sell to are France, Germany and Spain.
In 2018, 64% of UK SME online retailers intend to increase their international sales revenue. In the electronics sector, the percentage is higher at 78%. In health and beauty it is 69% and in fashion 68%.
Key ways of increasing international sales revenue will be by simplifying the sales/ordering/delivery and payment process (45%), selling more to the markets they already sell to (28%) and targeting new markets and countries (20%).
UK SME online retailers are planning to target Europe (50%), USA (34%) and Canada (28%) in 2018 due to demand, good e-commerce structure and the ease of shipping and delivery. Europe holds the greatest opportunity, according to UK SME online retailers.