The USA has a population around five times that of the UK, making it a compelling market for exporters from the UK, but it is important not to see the ‘United’ States as one single market.
The US economy in 2015 was worth $18tn compared to the UK’s $2.865tn, making the US market almost 6.3 times larger than the UK. The state of California, with its high-spending consumer lifestyle has a larger land mass, and larger economy than the country of Italy.
There is only one international border between the UK and the 50 states that make up this 316 million-strong group of consumers, but there are regional variances and state legislative differences that make the variations across the UK seem tiny.
The east and west coasts of the USA are about 3,000 miles apart, a distance spanning 4 time zones, requiring up to five days to ship goods by ground transit from New York to California. The population of the USA is also highly concentrated on the two coasts, with almost a fifth of the nation’s population living in the Boston to Washington, DC corridor.
Culturally there are huge variations, with differences in politics, religion and education following the geographic patterns: huge, sparsely populated areas of the centre of the country, the so-called ‘fly over States’, have a very different consumer and business culture to the more cosmopolitan coastal cities.
We recently fulfilled the campaign promotional goods for the Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton, as we did for Obama and John Kerry in previous elections, dispatching millions of pieces of merchandise from the Hillary website to voters across the entire USA. The concentration of support for the Democratic Party on both coasts was easy to see from the daily list of thousands of B2C website orders we picked and packed, with relatively few parcels being shipped to the Trump heartland states in the centre of the country.
Each week we ship truckloads of merchandise destined to thousands of retail stores across the USA, and thus we can see the regional differences in consumer buying patterns across the country.
Individual states set their own laws about how businesses can operate and market their products, and legislate how much income tax to charge businesses and how much sales tax to charge consumers. Consequently, it is important to work with business partners who can help you effectively navigate through these differences.
The key to thriving in such a huge market is a strong and robust strategy to get your consumer goods to market, whether it is through wholesaling to retail stores or selling directly to consumers. The challenges of scale dwarf those in the UK and Europe.
Parcel shipments are priced by the delivery address within any one of eight shipping zones, corresponding the distance that a parcel must travel. Meanwhile wholesale shipments may have to travel thousands of miles to reach stores or distribution centres. Due to the complexities and costs of shipping in the USA we assist UK companies with calculating their actual shipping costs within the USA before they set their finals product prices.
If you are considering entering the US market, give us a call to discuss the challenges and opportunities, and obtain detailed costings that will ensure you get the clearest picture of the distribution and delivery charges you will face in North America.
Coast to Coast Fulfillment is a Rhode Island and California-based expert retail and consumer fulfilment and warehousing provider, offering EDI fulfilment for UK businesses with US contracts.
Jeff Wyant – founder, Coast to Coast Fulfillment Inc., USA