Creating Opportunities

Creating Opportunities

This article is an extract from the Winter Edition of MER Magazine published in August 2018. You can read the full article as well as other articles from MER for free by visiting

In this article, Bruce Fair, Chief Revenue Officer, MetaPack argues that the key to satisfying the world’s online shoppers is simply delivering cross-border opportunities.

In the UK and other maturing e-commerce markets retailers are long past the point where domestic sales are enough. Their strategies are increasingly geared towards growing internationally, recognising the strong consumer appetite for borderless online shopping.

They are using our delivery management platform to help them realise their cross-border ambitions, which was a crucial factor in the announcement we made in July this year, that MetaPack was to be acquired by, the US-based provider of postage online and shipping software solutions. sees MetaPack’s strong international footprint as a way to expand globally to take advantage of the burgeoning e-commerce landscape.

So just how much is cross-border e-commerce expanding? The IMRG-MetaPack Cross-Border Index shows a strong growth trajectory in the number of e-commerce orders being despatched by UK retailers over the last six years. There are fluctuations of course. Since the Brexit vote, UK export sales to the EU have risen or fallen on a monthly basis in direct relation to the weakness or strength of sterling against the euro.

European online shoppers are shrewd with their money, as was demonstrated in June when, for the first time this calendar year, the proportion of UK dispatched volume going to cross-border destinations, was higher than for the same month in 2017. This was most likely driven by European sales because sterling, which had been recovering a little against the euro, fell away again in June, especially when compared to last year. The same patterns are true for sales to the US and Australia, which are the main non-European markets for UK retailers and brands.

But despite this, overall export sales are on the up, to the extent that the Index report gives the proportion of UK orders going to non-UK shoppers a 12-month rolling weighted average of 29.5% and growing.

We’re seeing the emergence of ever-more confident cross-border online shoppers, who don’t hesitate to look beyond their own domestic markets to get the goods they want.

The opportunities

Unsurprisingly, looking at all of the different areas in which retailers can see expansion opportunities, cross-border is the most prominent. The UK is a very mature e-commerce market, and as such, many major retailers are now experiencing a tapering off of growth, so it makes sound strategic sense for them to be looking overseas for new customers.

What we are noticing is that in parts of the EU that have previously focused very much on domestic e-commerce business, such as France, there has been a move towards a more multi-carrier approach and at the same time an increase in exports to overseas markets. Demand for strong brands, such as L’Occitane and Chanel, from overseas buyers, is boosting export sales. The brands themselves have improved the sophistication of their e-commerce operations in order to meet the requirements of overseas buyers, which is further boosting their business. Where once the UK was ahead of the curve, France is quickly catching up, and it won’t be long before Italy reaches this point too…

This article is an extract from the Winter Edition of MER Magazine published in August 2018. You can read the full article as well as other articles from MER for free by visiting

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