LONDON: The four biggest ecommerce markets in the world – China, Germany, the UK and US – will collectively double in size over the next four years, a new report has said, presenting a major opportunity for UK retailers.

Together these four are currently worth some £320bn but that figure will jump to £645bn by 2018 according to Cracking the World's Largest Ecommerce Markets, a study by OC&C Strategy Consultants, PayPal and Google. This was based on an analysis of Google search data and transaction volumes seen by PayPal, along with a consumer survey in three markets.

The report highlighted the significant opportunities that UK retailers could grasp if they responded to the finding that many overseas consumers saw them as a key retail destination.

The UK was the most popular online overseas destination for German shoppers, and the second most popular in both China and the US. But, the report added, many UK retailers were only providing a simple service, such as offering international delivery on their UK website and working with partners to provide local returns addresses.

But they could potentially treble their international customer base online and "could be earning up to 60% more by going deeper", it claimed.

The study found, for example, that Chinese and German shoppers spent on average 2.7 and 1.7 times more, respectively, in each transaction. And Chinese shoppers purchased from UK retailers online almost as frequently as domestic shoppers did.

"Those retailers that are going deeper are already reaping the rewards," said Anita Balchandani, Head of UK Retail at OC&C Strategy Consultants.

She pointed to the example of online fashion retailer ASOS which has adopted zonal pricing and invested in local warehouses to support returns in foreign markets. "As a result, searches for ASOS from overseas have grown faster than any other UK retailer," she siad.

The research further revealed that the biggest 'pull' factor for international customers was being able to buy unique products they couldn't find in their own country, cited by 40%.

One third mentioned pricing, while 29% said trust around quality was the most important driver for purchasing from UK brands.

Data sourced from OC&C; additional content by Warc staff