Long gone are the days when international trade was just the preserve of big businesses.
More small online businesses are expanding into new markets with increasing vigour. This creates a domino effect of job creation across different sectors, from manufacturing and services to procure more products, to logistics and delivery firms shipping more goods.
This is good news for small business, and good news for Britain. If we are to hit the country’s 2020 target of £1trillion exports, the UK’s online small businesses will play a crucial role.
The true innovators of retail
In my job looking after over 200,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the eBay UK marketplace, I see every day how firms use their entrepreneurial spirit and agility to export millions of British goods abroad – even without the infrastructure of a traditional exporter.
Small businesses are vital to the UK economy. They can make rapid decisions, price competitively and adapt quickly to meet changing consumer demand - the true innovators of UK retail.
New research we’ve released as part of our Small Business Optimism Index shows that 93% of eBay’s small businesses fulfilled overseas sales in 2015, with each exporting to an average of 20 different territories, compared with just 28% of businesses without an online presence.
Businesses like electrical goods specialists Electrolve. Electrolve export to 127 markets from its headquarters in Grimsby, North Lincolnshire. International trade has now grown to 60% of their total sales.
Traditional bricks and mortar businesses like car parts supplier Volksbits. A family business since 1968, employing three generations, they now sell car parts around the world and have a workforce of 30 from their workshop in Birmingham.
But there are also businesses that haven’t made the leap just yet. When asked what my advice to them would be, I’d say:
- Take advantage of cool Britannia
- Streamline payment
- Be ship-shape
- Leverage language
By Kit Glover, Director of Professional Selling & Cross Border Trade at eBay UK