Selling Online after Brexit
Leaving the EU means businesses can’t enjoy all the benefits and freedoms we used to. On the other hand, it now means we can think differently about how we trade with UK and EU customers, particularly online.
The UK joined the EU on 1 January 1973. Way back then, the UK agreed to stick to three rules: the freedom of movement of goods, freedom of movement of people and freedom of movement of capital.
What have we lost?
That all changed four decades later after the UK left the EU.
No sooner had the ink dried on the Brexit agreement than the UK Government implemented tougher rules on immigration, restricting the movement of people.
It also introduced new export and import rules for trading with the EU, affecting the movement of goods.
As yet, it seems freedom of movement of capital is unaffected – the money keeps flowing.
What have we gained?
Despite losing certain freedoms under Brexit, the UK has been afforded new freedoms that we never had when we were part of the EU.
One of the most important is the freedom for businesses to offer better terms to customers in the UK.
Before Brexit, the EU Geo-Blocking Regulation (Regulation EU 2018/302) was meant to make it easier to trade within the EU by removing potential barriers to the online supply and purchase of goods and services.
It prevented EU companies from making unjustified distinctions between EU customers in different locations. So, it was unlawful to discriminate between customers in different EU Member States, say, France and Poland.
For example, if you provide goods or services through your website, and have the technology to identify where the user is browsing from, you might automatically redirect browsers to a version of your site in their local language. If that version of the site offered different products, services, pricing or terms in different countries, it would be considered discriminatory under the Regulation.
What this means to you
Now, thanks to Brexit, UK businesses are able to distinguish between our local customers and those in Europe. While we can’t provide better terms to customers from one EU country over another, we can offer preferential terms to customers in the UK when it makes commercial sense to do so.
For example, you could agree to send products to customers in the UK at the time of order, while delaying shipment to EU customers until their payment has been processed.
- Do you sell products or services online?
- Do you use multi-language websites or focus on global sales?
- Will this change the way you do business?
- Will you make your products or services more easily available or desirable to UK customers than European ones?
If you have already invested in an EU-friendly online infrastructure and supply and delivery chain, you’re well set to continue trading across Europe.
If you’re facing higher tariffs, extra paperwork, and the hassle of operating the Non-Union Mini One Stop Shop scheme (VAT MOSS) – intended to simplify VAT processing on online sales to EU consumers – you may choose to focus just on UK customers.
Devant is here to help you navigate these new and complex Brexit changes.
If you’d like some assistance and advice, please give us a call on 0118 353 6000 or email [email protected]. There’s no charge for an initial call.