LONDON: A majority (59%) of retailers in the UK consider the US to be the most important retail e-commerce market, but although they appreciate the opportunity, many are not geared up to the task, a new survey has revealed.

According to Global-e, a firm specialising in cross-border e-commerce, less than half (44%) of UK retailers currently sell to shoppers in the US and relatively few have plans to do so in the future.

Its survey of 250 decision-makers in the UK retail sector found just 13% are currently planning to start selling to consumers in the US, Retail Times reported.

But retail opportunities abound because the post-Brexit value of the pound has fallen sharply against the US dollar, the North American e-commerce market is predicted to soar to $579.9bn by 2019 (roughly when the UK is expected to leave the European Union), and new regulations have raised the rate at which import duties are applied.

As of March this year, the level at which international shipments became exempt from customs and import taxes was raised from $200 to $800, leading Global-e to say that now is an "opportune time" for British retailers to do business in the US.

"US consumers' appetite for cross-border shopping is growing rapidly. Following the new rules, they can now buy more for the same price from abroad which is great news for foreign retailers selling into the US," said Nir Debbi, CMO and co-founder of Global-e.

"Particularly for British retailers, where post-Brexit shock has caused the American dollar to surge against the British pound."

However, the survey found that almost half (48%) of those UK retailers planning to target US consumers are still doing so with their existing British offering and have made no arrangements for localisation.

Yet, according to Global-e, nearly all (99%) US consumers prefer to pay in US dollars when given the option by a foreign retailer, and conversion rates increase to more than 90% with a localised offering.

"Retailers should take into consideration the local competition and remove major barriers in order to realise the full potential of the US e-commerce market," Debbi said.

"Most retailers fail to offer overseas customers their local payment methods, localised pricing or multiple shipping options at attractive rates and local return options – which impacts conversions abroad."

Data sourced from Retail Times, UPS; additional content by Warc staff