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Heathrow’s only on-site express courier backs new initiative to get 70,000 UK SMEs selling online

CFL says E-commerce Week is a great opportunity for the UK to boost international trade

The UK’s first E-Commerce Week is live and runs until March 24th. The aim is to help UK businesses make the most of e-commerce exporting, and is based on an analysis by the Social Market Foundation that 70,000 UK SMEs today don’t sell online, but could.

The analysis revealed that by selling online globally these businesses could boost the UK economy by £9.3bn. 

E-commerce Week is supported by the UK’s Export Trade Commission, which has been convened by the Institute Of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT). The commission will advise the Department for Business and Trade; its members includes Amazon, Google, Alibaba, eBay, the Federation of Small Businesses and Shopify.

Matthew Ware, CEO at CFL, said; “Exporting is vital for the UK economy, but there are critical underpinning systems and services that must be in place to ensure it makes sense for overseas buyers, both personal and business.

“The most important of these in an efficient international express courier service, which guarantees fast, reliable and cost-effective delivery.”

“For overseas businesses, relying on British components or finished goods, speed and reliability are critical.”

The airline industry is a key part of the global e-commerce ecosystem – IATA says 80% of e-commerce goods by value travel by air. Airfreight in general accounts for only around 0.5% of UK total international movements by weight but about 45% of them by value, according to a report by the Freight Trade Association.

The Association of International Express Courier Services (AICES), the UK’s trade body for express services, is also a member of the commission; CFL is a member of AICES.

Whilst this new initiative is likely to lead to a boost in UK exports, there are challenges in terms of infrastructure and capacity; today, cargo in and out of Heathrow is more than the sum of all other UK airports cargo shipments taken together.

Matthew Ware commented; “Manchester or Gatwick, on a smaller scale, could provide additional gateways with a dedicated courier facility, such that a substantial increase in export volumes could be better managed.

“A greater number of overseas facilities like those at Heathrow could create a network

whereby e-commerce exporters would have wider choice and greater certainty over service consistency.

“Expansion of capacity and cargo flight slots will help meet the surge in demand, as will the expansion of express courier facilities around the world.”

The Trade Commission was launched in June 2023 and will run until June 2025.

To find out more about E-Commerce Week activities, visit E-Commerce Trade Commission (