Business development · 19 January 2017

The statistic that will put an offline business online

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A small offline business could be missing out on global sales opportunities

Small UK firms without an online presence miss out on an average annual revenue boost of £20,000, according to a new eBay study that highlighted the sales impact of remaining an offline business.

The online auction giant surveyed the owners of 500 small firms to assess the value of investing time and resources into websites and social media campaigns.

Murray Lambell, a trading director at eBay, said that there were “clear benefits” to having a website, with further opportunities on online marketplaces making it easier for a currently offline business to reach overseas customers.

“Our sellers tell us that there are clear benefits to going online, with access to our marketplace enabling a British small business to export to markets as far afield as Australia or Canada with ease,” Lambell said in a statement.

Recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics found that it was the smallest businesses more likely to stay offline and miss out on sales opportunities.

According to the data, just 46 per cent of micro business owners had invested in an online presence for their company, compared to 97 per cent of large firms of over 250 staff.

Adding further comment to eBay’s study, Matt Hancock, the government’s digital and culture minister and one of our small business decision makers for 2017, emphasised the added revenue from having an online presence.

“Digital know-how can help firms save money, increase profits and improve productivity, yet too many firms still do not use websites, trading platforms or social media channels,” he said.

A separate study from courier firm UPS has found UK companies to be lagging behind European competition in exports, and a commitment to making the most of online opportunities can open a brand up to markets across the world.

The research found a decline in exporting activity among small UK businesses since the EU referendum in June 2016. According to the data, Germany was previously the only country with a busier exporting economy than Britain. Since the Brexit vote, UK firms were found to be chasing the pack in sixth place.

Lambell added that the wider economy would benefit to more companies using the internet for business. “Our research shows that the UK will see clear benefits in terms of jobs and growth,” he concluded.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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