WorldPay: UK retailers failing to capitalise on demand from international shoppers

WorldPay: international shopper opportunity

WorldPay: international shopper opportunity

Retailers are at risk of losing valuable business to their competitors if they fail to improve the purchasing experience for international customers, according to WorldPay, the UK market leader in payment processing.

WorldPay made the comments on the eve of the publication of a new guide – The rules of attraction: How retailers can win more revenue from overseas consumers.

Britain continues to be a magnet for international shoppers, said WorldPay. The number of Chinese shoppers alone visiting the UK has risen by over 800% in 10 years. These consumers, together with other high spending shoppers from Qatar, UAE and Russia are providing a valuable boost to retail revenues, spending up to four times as much as local customers, the company reports. 

From Clarks to Burberry the power of British brands is enormous, with consumers not just coming to the UK to buy luxury items but well-known brands at every price point, said WorldPay.

To capitalise on this growing demand, retailers need to make it easy for international shoppers to buy, as the Guide explains.

“The UK visa system and the HMRC’s process for reclaiming tax on purchases are onerous enough already; retailers need to do more to ease the burden on their international customers. After all, the Chinese alone account for almost 20% of non-EU international spending in the UK,” said Geoff Barraclough, head of corporate propositions at WorldPay.

While some retailers offer tax free shopping to attract lucrative global consumers into their stores, most are still not offering the full range of value added services such as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) that will attract higher footfall and higher spend, said WorldPay. This is especially true of those customers who may be from within the EU and cannot offset the tax, but may still want to take advantage of their local currency rates.

Barraclough said: “The UK is a brand bazaar for global consumers and British product and brands are very popular. Critical to success for retailers is how they manage this valuable source of revenue for both themselves and their customers.”

The World Tourism Organisation says the number of Chinese tourists travelling abroad increased from 10m in 2000 to 83m in 2012. About half of them spend more than £3,000 a trip and account for 25% of sales of luxury goods around the world, giving them considerable economic clout.

The Guide, which can be accessed at provides insight into the global consumer, advice on managing tax free shopping, introduces myCurrency (WorldPay’s DCC solution), and details staff training and integrated payment options across multiple devices in store.

By sourcing the complete range of payment services from a single provider, retailers reduce costs and management overhead, as well as earning valuable revenue from DCC, and gaining insight into consumer buying patterns that will enable them to plan for the future, WorldPay claims.

“We primarily see myCurrency as a way of improving the experience of our customers rather than a source of income. The simple IT implementation and staff training, combined with the customer service benefits makes myCurrency a compelling service for us,” an Arcadia spokesperson said.

Facts and figures

  • 30% of Burberry’s London store sales are to overseas visitors
  • Global shoppers spend around four times more than locals at high street retailers (Global Blue based on transactions since 1980)
  • Demand is strong: retail prices of many luxury goods are 30% higher in China than in Europe (China Daily)
  • Global growth of Tax-Free amount spent in 2012
  • Increase over 20% Japan Russia USA 
  • Increase over 30% Malaysia Singapore Thailand
  • Increase over 50% China
  • The Chinese account for almost 20% of non-EU international spending in the UK, and the average trip lasts about 13 nights (VisitBritain)
  • Every year 150,000 Chinese tourists come to the UK – and at Harrods they now spend five times more than Americans (The Telegraph)