RangeMe is going international. As the world’s largest product and sourcing platform, RangeMe has already helped more than 12,000 American retail buyers source the best products from around the world for their customers. Now the platform is launching in Europe, with the U.K. as its first port of call.

On 9 June, the RangeMe platform opened to British retailers. Their buyers now have access to more than 700,000 products from more than 200,000 global suppliers as they focus on increasing choice and quality for shoppers. British retailers, including LloydsPharmacy, one of the leading U.K. pharmacy chains, are already on board. They will be the first of many – and this is a fantastic opportunity for brands worldwide to start selling in the U.K.

Unlock opportunity in the U.K.

If you are a producer that has never considered the British market before, now is the moment to take a closer look at its huge potential. The U.K. spent £48bn on food and drink imports alone in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available. British consumers have an appetite for extraordinary products from all around the world: food and drink imports into the U.K. have risen by almost 50% over the past decade.

There are good reasons to think this growth will continue and even accelerate. For one thing, the OECD expects the U.K. economy will grow 7.2% this year, a more rapid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic than in any other advanced economy. In addition, the pandemic appears to have prompted many Britons to think more deeply about what they consume and the products they buy. Research suggests British consumers are planning recipes more carefully, buying a broader range of ingredients than ever before, and taking more interest in trends ranging from the rise of plant-based foods to outdoor eating and luxury indulgences.

Then there is the effect of Brexit to take into account. European Union producers have traditionally accounted for the biggest share of food and drink imports into the U.K. The proximity of mainland Europe means U.K. buyers will continue to look to the EU even though the U.K. has now left the bloc – but they will also have more incentive to look further afield. So expect imports to become much more global.

Factors to consider when selling in the U.K.

Importantly, the United Kingdom’s attractiveness is not simply about the depth and breadth of the opportunity – but also the relative simplicity of taking advantage of it, compared to trading in other markets for the first time. Not least, a common language and a stable tax and regulatory environment make for a less intimidating entry.

Certainly, you will need to get to grips with some basics. The U.K. has strict standards on food and drinks products, which importers must be able to meet. These differ according to the product – particularly between animal and plant-based products – so understanding how the detail of the Food Standards Agency’s requirements apply to you is important. Note that it is not just the content of foodstuffs that is regulated, but also how they are labelled and packaged; you can find basic information here.

In addition, to move goods into the U.K., you must fill in the right declarations and paperwork. What you need varies according to how your product is classified under the U.K.’s trade regulations – you will need to find the commodity code that applies to your product. Once you have this, it is straightforward to check which shipping rules you need to meet.

This code also details how your product will be treated for the purposes of customs duties and value-added tax (VAT). These are the taxes that you may have to pay when bringing goods into the U.K., but they vary by product and in some cases exemptions apply. The commodity code is the key to understanding these rules – and then making the right import declaration to customs agents.

How RangeMe plans to support suppliers interested in selling in the U.K.

Practical support is available with all of these issues, from specialist shipping and customs agents in the U.K., but also from retailers, which are keen to support new suppliers. RangeMe will also publish a growing range of resources with useful advice on different aspects of importing into the U.K.

Importantly, RangeMe is also the crucial solution for the one issue that does worry many producers when they want to sell into a new country. If you do not have experience of a particular market, it is difficult to know who to speak to about getting your products listed. But RangeMe is all about making connections. Suppliers from every corner of the world get to show their wares in a shop window seen by thousands of buyers looking for exactly what they are offering. It is a front-row audience for what they do.

The U.K. is just the start for RangeMe’s international expansion. Over time, it has plans to expand into the rest of Europe, where so many retailers are just as keen to source new products for their customers. But each country in Europe is different, with subtle differences in rules, regulations, and systems that can catch out the unwary. The U.K. offers a single unified marketplace with outstanding growth prospects – there is exciting potential for suppliers to meet the huge demand from retailers and consumers.

To learn more about how RangeMe helps suppliers grow their business, go here

To learn more about joining RangeMe as a retail buyer to source products, go here.

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