Rise in UK exporters selling online to be the 'new normal' as eBay reveals top selling categories

Fri 12 Jun 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News


Selling online will be the ‘new normal’ for exporters after the pandemic, say trade experts.

According to research from Tamebay, which monitors online marketplaces, more than half (58.9%) of the 300,000 UK SMEs on eBay sold internationally during lockdown in March and April, with 2% and 7% increases in export value and volume.

Global trend

This reflects a global consumer trend towards ecommerce filling the market space left behind by shuttered high street retailers during the lockdown.

With ecommerce judged one of the ‘winners’ from lockdown, Amazon and eBay shares hit record highs on Tuesday this week (9 June).

Wells Fargo analyst Brian Fitzgerald wrote on Barron’s that there was “continued strength, if not acceleration, in digital commerce from March into April and May, despite bricks-and-mortar retailers beginning to reopen across much of the country”.

‘New normal’

Lars Karlsson, CEO of KGH Global Consulting, said in a webinar hosted by the UK Customs Academy yesterday (Thursday, 11 June) that ecommerce was already becoming a “new normal” but we have only “seen the beginning”.

“We do not go to the store and buy things anymore,” he said. “Instead, we pick up our smartphone and receive things two days later without any thought of how they got there.”

Despite the strength of online-only platforms such as eBay, Fitzgerald sees a way back for high street retailers post-lockdown. “A gradual return to more hectic work and school schedules among consumers will likely shift momentum back toward rapid delivery from competitors’ store-based fulfilment options.”

Ireland and US buy British

On a country specific basis, the UK’s top export eBay markets were Ireland, the US and Italy, to whom it shipped 1.7 million items, according to Tamebay.

The same report shows the US, Ireland and France were the UK’s top markets by value, with vehicle parts and accessories, computing goods and clothes, shoes and accessories the top categories of goods exported.

Top markets by items sold:

  • Ireland
  • US
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • France

Top markets by value:

  • US
  • Ireland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy

Top categories of goods exported:

  • Vehicle parts & accessories
  • Computers/tablets & networking
  • Clothes, shoes & accessories
  • Home, furniture & DIY
  • Business, office & industrial