The UK has been named Europe’s largest online exporter according to a new report from Ipsos conducted on behalf of PayPal, with clothing the most popular category for cross-border purchases.

The fourth annual Cross-Border-Commerce report suggests more overseas shoppers have bought from UK online businesses than any other European country. Clothing is the most popular category for cross-border purchases with 68% of online cross-border shoppers buying clothes from other countries in the past year.

Other popular products include consumer electronics (53%), toys and hobbies (53%), jewellery and watches (51%), and cosmetics and beauty products (46%).

The US was revealed as the largest export market for UK online businesses. Shoppers from the US bought an estimated GBP12.5bn (US$16.4bn) worth of goods from the UK in the past 12 months. 

China was identified as another important market for UK online businesses buying an estimated GBP5.7bn worth of products in the last year. 

The main reason why shoppers buy from foreign countries is to seek a bargain, with 7 in 10 (72%) respondents who shop cross-border indicating that they buy from other countries because of cheaper prices. The fall in the pound following the EU referendum has made UK goods even more attractive, suggests the data.

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Nicola Longfield, director of small business at PayPal UK, says: “As growth in the UK economy remains modest, it’s time for all British businesses to open their doors to the international shopper.

“International shopping is increasing at a rapid pace, and this study highlights the small adjustments that businesses can make to capture more global sales. If you set a border around your business, you are simply putting a limit on your sales.

“Shoppers from Austria to Australia, Belgium to Brazil have all bought from UK online businesses in the past 12 months. With the UK punching above its weight and leading Europe when it comes to global e-commerce, we hope that other businesses are encouraged to sell their products online and overseas.”

The report included a case study on Castore, a UK-based premium sportswear brand that launched in 2016.

Castore has forecast that its sales will rise to GBP2.7m this year, up from GBP750,000 in 2017. More than half of its total sales in the past three months has come from North America and Asia.

Tom Beahon, co-founder of Castore, says: “The speed and ease of online buying and selling has changed the retail game. It’s meant that UK start-ups have been able to quickly grow and thrive on a global scale.”

British retailers are now all being urged to seize the opportunity and sell overseas to reap the rewards of a global marketplace.

The Department for International Trade says it is making it easier and cheaper for UK firms to sell online to customers globally with negotiated preferred rates on online marketplaces and support from e-commerce advisors.

“PayPal’s global study is great news for Britain – a clear sign of the strong demand for our goods and the success that UK retailers are already having online,” says Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for the Department of International Trade.

“Our recently published Export Strategy sets out our ambition to grow exports as a percentage of GDP to 35%, and getting more UK firms to sell online is key to achieving this.”