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Warehouse UK for growing ecommerce market

September 5, 2013


With a population that strongly supports Internet retail, the UK offers an opportunity for growth among merchants with a UK customer base and merchants looking to expand business.

“The UK is one of the most internet-based economies in the world according to researchers at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG)…it contributes to 8.3% of the UK economy, growing at a faster rate than other countries,” specifically the US and China, reports the ETC New Media Trend Watch. The organization also reports that UK online retail is expected to expand by 11% a year for the next four years, “reaching a total value of £221bn (over 295 billion USD) by 2016.”

When approaching a given market, it’s smart to keep operational costs down and ship orders to consumers efficiently, which means keeping your product close to buyers. This guide will provide references to help you with the logistics of using a UK warehouse.


Merchants within the EU
Moving goods from within the EU into the UK. You'll need commodity codes to label your goods. Codes classify goods for import and export so that you pay the right tax and duty and follow regulations. If you don't provide correct commodity codes, expect delays in clearing goods, additional payments, and other penalties. If the goods you're moving were produced in the EU, you don't have to pay duties on them. Look here for more information about how to classify goods, etc.

You probably won't need an import licence to move goods within the EU, as such licences are only required for specific goods. However, if the goods you are bringing into the UK come from another EU country, you'll have to add them to your VAT return and expect to pay VAT at UK rates.


International merchants
The major difference in moving goods from non-EU countries into the UK (as opposed to moving them from EU countries) is the customs process. As with goods from the EU, commodity codes are required. A license may also be needed. Unlike goods that originate in EU countries, goods coming into the UK from non-EU countries must be declared and pass through UK customs and the accompanying paperwork must be filed. When goods first arrive in the EU, duty and UK VAT must be paid in order for them to be released by customs. More details can be found here. This article also provides good considerations for merchants expanding from the U.S. to the UK, and explains the value of outsourcing logistics when going international (bulk ship products to a location near buyers to reduce costs and time spent fulfilling orders).

Warehouse UK and logistics

  • There are many service providers to choose from when it comes to shipping products to customers, so we've organized carrier services in easy-to-read charts. From the UK, Royal Mail and Parcelforce can ship goods domestically and internationally.
  • This UK import guide provides in depth documentation about the process of moving products into the country and into a warehouse.


Get started
Should you choose to work and grow with Shipwire, here’s a brief introduction to Shipwire in the UK, and you can test our services with a free trial to ensure your needs are met.

Lauren Jow

Lauren is responsible for Ingram Micro Commerce's brand experience and creative initiatives in both digital and physical spaces. She's excited by big changes and big challenges.