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British Brands Are Eyeing The U.S. For Ecommerce Expansion


Land of the free.

Home of the brave.

The land of milk & honey.

If you can make it here…

Alright alright, you get it.

The USA is the second largest eCommerce market in the world with $1.1 trillion in sales and over 268 million active online shoppers.

Today we’re going to dive into why British brands are making the big leap over the Atlantic more than ever before!



✔️ Vanquish Framework: Expand or Die

✔️ The British brands conquering America

✔️ 5 Lessons from our U.S. conquerers

✔️ What makes a U.S. launch successful

✔️ One random gem from my younger self



It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

But it’s just facts.

The U.K.’s retail industry is facing harsh economic headwinds, so we have two choices;

1. We press forward at home, up the ad-spend and look for new innovative SKUs and channels of retail.

2. We look to new geographic locations to target a totally fresh consumer, with the same proven SKUs.

It’s a no-brainer for me, and thankfully some of the biggest brands in Britain agree.

Where better than the USA? It is 10 times larger than the UK and we speak the same lingo. It’s not easy, but it is easier than picking up your job-seekers allowance to cover the rent!

It really is expand or die right now, with more brands ceasing to exist than ever before. But we must keep moving forward because the real successes are born at times like this.



The digitally-native British brands are coming.

A number of British startups have made their American debuts in the past year. In the last few months, U.K. luggage company Antler and footwear brand Vivobarefoot have launched direct-to-consumer websites to introduce themselves to U.S. audiences. On the CPG side, digitally-native brands like protein and supplements startup Form Nutrition and sustainable diaper brand Pura both made their official United States debut this past year.

Being a brand with British roots can act as a differentiator in the competitive eCommerce climate. But it also poses transatlantic challenges like higher marketing and fulfilment costs, which are already plaguing U.S. brands. So it has to be done right, like anything else.

For some of these brands, like Form and Antler, the U.S. marks their first major expansion outside of Britain – which they view as a big growth opportunity due to the size of the population. Some, like Vivobarefoot, have expanded to other European countries like Germany and the Czech Republic before jumping across the ocean. But, many of these brands anticipate the U.S. will become their biggest foreign market in the coming years.

Kristy Glenne, managing director at Antler, said the U.S. launch had been in the works for over a year prior to the U.S. debut, which also aligned with Antler’s rebrand. “It [rebrand] introduced an entirely new brand aesthetic, and marked the initiation of our strategy to position ourselves as the British travel brand with global appeal.”

As is the case when entering any new market, U.K. startups are trying to figure out what messaging will resonate in the U.S. compared to their home country.

Asher Clark, co-founder of U.K.-based Vivobarefoot, a barefoot shoe brand founded in 2012, said that being Earth-friendly is at the forefront of its stateside messaging. Vivobarefoot began selling in the U.S. through its website earlier this year, “and the U.S. is now our biggest growing region,” Clark said.

Damian Soong, founder of six-year-old U.K. supplement brand Form, said that his company had originally planned to make its U.S. debut in early 2020, but that those plans were interrupted by the Covid-19 outbreaks.

“In many ways, it was social media and organic requests from U.S. consumers that gave us confidence to take those first steps into a new market,” Soong said. After testing the market by shipping to U.S. customers, Form officially opened a warehouse in 2022 and began selling on Amazon and retailers like The Vitamin Shoppe.

“We don’t play on the Britishness too much, but we do find that some of our best-performing ads are the ones where I’m explaining the product in a British accent,” Soong said. “Maybe there is truth to the myth that Americans love the British accent.” He added that many new customers are largely attracted to Form’s minimalist and plastic-free packaging, along with the stricter ingredient standards as differentiators in the busy supplements category.

On the other hand, being a British brand doesn’t necessarily guarantee sales across the pond. Topshop is an example, despite being a beloved brand among American expats and travellers, the fashion retailer failed to translate that fanfare into U.S. sales. In 2019, the company filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. and liquidated the U.S. stores it began opening in 2014.

J’nae Phillips, insights editor at London-based consumer insights agency Canvas8, said that U.K.-bred DTC brands find the U.S. to be “a hugely attractive territory to enter because of its market size.”

However, Phillips said there are some cross-border challenges to consider. “Despite sharing a common language and many cultural similarities, American and British consumers’ buying habits can vary greatly,” Phillips explained.

Laziness won’t cut it. There’s no better opportunity than the US for exciting brands, but it takes hard work, research and total commitment.

Dive deeper still, here.



💥 Serious growth is being found overseas. It’s getting tougher for everyone at home, but there are blue oceans out there with the right strategy.

💥 Don’t assume that what works at home will work internationally. Often the brand story needs to be totally rebuilt from the ground up for a new consumer.

💥 The American consumer has an affinity with all things British, and this can be leveraged very well to translate into a successful U.S. launch. The same can be true of French, Italian and German to name more European examples, where the product category is strongly associated with its origins.

💥 Fulfilment and marketing costs are naturally higher, and whilst that can be a challenge to native brands, it can be an advantage to new brands coming to market with a blank cost/resale canvas.

💥 Digital is the way to go in 2023. Whilst there is a great allure for brands seeking distribution, the retail landscape has changed and it is not as easy as it once was. We say bypass the middleman and go DTC and marketplace to harvest margins and interact with the end user.



I’m biased, my company has done over 200 successful U.S. launches in the last 3 years and whilst they don’t all go on to be the next VivoBarefoot, we have learned a thing or two about what works.


From VAT setup and reporting to IP protection, America can be a daunting place to do business with complex laws and regulatory compliance.


Ensuring your products meet the requirements of the US market saves you from costly penalties and legal troubles. A properly compliant product is your first step towards success.


Brand + Narrative + UVP + Validation = Power Positioning. Developing a strong brand story and value proposition, then giving it omni-channel social proof is the difference between success and failure across the pond.


America is a big place, therefore positioning yourself in the right geographical locations and with a partner experienced in customs, MultiChannel fulfilment and logistics is crucial.


While Amazon is often an excellent market point of entry in America, it represents only 40% of the online market. A holistic strategy ideally includes multiple channels for serious brands.


As we touched upon earlier, replicating what you do at home simply will not work. America is a big place when you consider that California alone has a population 60% the size of the entire UK! If you go out with a nationwide approach to marketing and fulfilment, you will fail.



For 20 years, I have been filling Peter Pauper Press journals with notable quotes, wisdom and things to remember. I write privately, for me. Now I want to share one with you exactly as I wrote it then:

“Pay for the things anyone can do, so I can focus on the things only I can do”


😎 How Amazon robots actually work

🌐 US FTC hits Amazon with antitrust lawsuit on e-commerce business

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