How to succeed in exporting to USA

China and the USA are the world’s leading ecommerce markets, contributing to more than 55% of global online retail sales in 2014. Totaling $304.91 billion in 2014 and with a growth of 15.4% year on year, the USA is expected to maintain its position as the second-largest retail ecommerce market in 2018, with a predicted $500 billion, followed by the UK in third place. With such positive figures, it is not surprising that the USA is considered the Eldorado for non-US sellers looking for a lucrative location for international expansion. In 2015, e-commerce is set to boom in the USA, especially for media products, fashion and accessories, sales of which are expected to grow by 15%.

As the US population continues to grow, this provides a large supply of current and future customers (the rising baby boomers and millennials). Even with the strong position of e-commerce in the USA, recent figures show the importance of bricks-and-mortar retail and m-commerce. In fact, while roughly 63% of the population are expected to have made a purchase online in 2014, still only 6.5% of total sales in the country will come from the internet. To support this shifting trend, the US retail industry has had to embrace technology to make consumers’ shopping experience more relevant and leverage all of their customer’s preferred sales channels. New services such as click-and-collect were created which enabled a substantial increase in market shares.

Getting started in the wide American e-commerce market

In a country where each shopper is predicted to spend on average $1,700 online in 2015, exporting to the US market is an exciting opportunity for brands and retailers, but it also demands a well-rounded strategy. When entering such a distant country, significant technical, logistical, legal, marketing and financial investment is required. Integrating with leading local marketplaces open to third-party vendors provides a real risk-free solution. It’s also one of the best ways to gain visibility as brands and retailers can leverage the marketing and reach these popular American websites with ease.

However, before expanding into a region as large as the USA, it is key to get the right balance between supply and demand. Each marketplace has its own integration system and way of operating, so prior to distribution on these channels, retailers must ensure that the audience, product structure, currency changes, multiple payment options and order process can be managed by the business.

Furthermore, non-US brands and retailers must ensure their fulfillment services and options are reliable and efficient. In order to get the edge over local competitors, it’s also important to keep shipping costs competitive. A high level of customer service combined with a streamlined management of returns is also essential. In addition, as social media was born in America, bad customer experience can be communicated very quickly damaging a business’ reputation. Indeed, a large proportion of consumers are now browsing social networks, to help guide them in their purchasing decisions. With this in mind, it’s vital to have a presence on social media, be it customer service oriented, brand building or even promotional.

Abundance of marketplaces

There are dozens of marketplaces where brands and retailers can set up shop and sell online in the USA. Nevertheless, at first, it is a safe bet to spend time on the leading e-commerce sites like Amazon, the most renowned marketplace across the world and eBay, the seventh most visited site in the US, both of which have dominated the market for a long time. However, there are a few requirements to tick off before being allowed to sell on these marketplaces. Given the maturity of the American ecommerce market, it’s vital to streamline your processes and optimise your data to gain a competitive advantage.


Outside of eBay and Amazon, there is huge opportunity to integrate with local marketplaces. Some others which stand out from the competition include Walmart, and Best Buy.

With the help of governing bodies like the UKTI and a solid strategy formed with the help of an ecommerce and technical partner, UK-based sellers have all the tools to succeed in the US market, which despite tremendous economic and cultural changes over the decades, will continue to be the destination of choice for international brands and retailers for years to come.

By Greg Zemor is co-Founder of marketplace distribution solution Neteven