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European customers still willing to buy from UK etailers despite Brexit disruption

Lauretta Roberts
15 February 2021

European customers are still willing to buy products from UK-based websites despite the delays and disruption caused by Brexit.

Cross border e-commerce experts eShopWorld (ESW) surveyed 4,000 shoppers in France and Germany and found that nearly half of French (42%) and German (41%) respondents would still go ahead and make a purchase if the product they want is only available from a UK-based retailer, regardless of any complication.

Additionally, more than a third (36% of French shoppers and 37% of German respondents) say if they’re already a regular shopper with a UK brand, they will put up with any disruption caused.

Retailers exporting to the EU have been hit with new charges and taxes, as well as delays, as a result of Brexit deal which came into force on 1 January.

Fashion retailers have been particularly hit by the new country of origin rule, which states that products may move freely if they are predominantly made in the UK and EU (which much of fashion is not given that it may be made outside of the EU or from materials sourced from outside of the EU).

As a result customers have been hit with unexpected customs and VAT charges on parcels sent from the UK to the EU and vice versa.

ESW CEO Tommy Kelly commented: “Six weeks on from the Free Trade Agreement, it’s no surprise that Brexit has introduced some initial complexity into the purchasing journey, from both the point of view of retailers and consumers, as these new processes bed in. But despite these short-lived hurdles, our research clearly shows ongoing positive purchasing intent from European shoppers, who are prepared to overlook this initial disruption. This is both an optimistic indicator for the future and a positive reinforcement of the desirability of British brands and products to European consumers.”

“In order to continue capitalising on this established customer loyalty the onus is on UK brands and retailers to work with a partner like ESW that has the necessary expertise and technology needed to solve the challenges of Brexit, guide them through the new reality of selling into the EU, and help remove purchasing friction so they can continue to provide European shoppers with a customer experience that is as seamless and simple as possible at every touch point from pricing and duty and tax calculation, checkout through to delivery and returns.”

The research shows that more than a quarter (26%) of German shoppers have purchased goods from a UK based website in past 12 months (with the UK being the 3rd most popular market for cross-border purchases after China, 48%, and the US, 37%) alongside 24% of French respondents (where the UK is the 4th most popular market for international purchases after China, 59%, and the US, 30%, and Germany, 24%).

However there are some concerns among European customers about the implications of the new rules. Some 64% of respondents surveyed believe Brexit will increase the price of ordering from UK retailers due to additional taxes and customs duties with 57% of shoppers are uneasy about the length of time it will take for items to be delivered. 59% of French participants and 56% of Germans respondents expressing concern about their ability to return products within the necessary timeframe because of delays in delivery and return.

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