By Nick James, Fresh Business Thinking

An online presence for SMEs (Small and Medium Size Enterprises) is becoming increasingly important as according to IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) the UK e-retail market is currently growing at 16% per annum in spite of the recession, and is worth a staggering £68bn. The UK is Europe’s leading e-retail economy, with sales estimated to have reached £68.2bn in 2011 and the Internet provides more of a level playing field for small businesses than a traditional ‘Bricks and Mortar’ retail establishment due to lower cost of entry.

One hugely successful entrepreneur who has found fame and fortune online is Nick Robertson, the founder of ASOS, who was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list. Mr Robertson launched the original website AsSeenOnScreen in 2000, which was later shortened to ASOS. He has been hailed as one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the Twentieth century, having defied the critics with ASOS not only surviving the burst of the dot-com bubble, but also continuing to record strong growth throughout the recession.

Asos reported sales boomed in the run up to Christmas, boosted by rapid international growth and a solid performance in the UK. The online clothing retailer, which targets fashion-conscious 16 to 34-year olds looking to replicate outfits worn by celebrities, said that UK sales grew 10% in the three months to 31st December. International sales soared 93% and total sales rose 46% in the quarter, reaching £146.5m.

Mr Robertson attributes the success of ASOS to numerous factors including “broadband taking off, the fact that we have so many products under one roof, a new way of doing something, with a new generation".

However many owners and directors of UK SME’s ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ when it comes to the Internet and to try and fill that knowledge gap Fresh Business Thinking and Microsoft are running a one-day event - The Online Business Makeover

This event has been developed to give expert insight into what businesses can do to improve their online presence and 5 lucky readers of this newsletter can attend this event for free, courtesy of our sponsors Microsoft. Simply visit freeticketdraw.eventbrite.com and register your details before 6pm Friday 24th February to be entered into the prize draw.

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