Supply chain · 7 March 2016

UK small digital businesses embrace exporting

small digital businesses
The United States and Australia are the most popular destinations for small exporters using eBay

Some 93 per cent of the small digital businesses trading on eBay exported abroad in 2015, according to new research released by the ecommerce giant.

Of the 200,000 small business owners using the platform, those whose firms exported last year did so to an average of 20 different countries.

Despite the prospect of a Brexit sparking fears about British firms’ over-reliance on Europe as a trading partner, only one in three of those small firm owners selling through eBay see the continent as a key market.

The United States and Australia are the most popular destinations for small exporters using eBay – with two thirds of business owners of the belief that foreign sales are key to fulfilling firm growth targets.

Kit Glover, director of professional selling and cross border trade at eBay, said: “More small online business owners are expanding into new markets with increasing vigour and we’re seeing growing numbers of multinational micro businesses emerging. These are agile businesses capable of selling to a global audience, without the infrastructure of a traditional exporter.

“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.”

Lesley Batchelor, director general of the Institute of Export, added: “Many small businesses are often put off from exporting by difficulties ranging from tariff codes to cultural issues and language barriers. But to realise the government’s ambitious target of £1tn exports by 2020, many more small business owners in Britain need to start selling their wares abroad.”

The majority of the small firm owners surveyed by eBay believe that the government should be doing more to help them achieve this target – with 63 per cent calling for more support.

Additional analysis published recently by Santander – using figures from the Office for National Statistics – revealed that total the number of UK businesses exporting abroad rose by five per cent between 2012 and 2014. Welsh business owners pursued international growth most enthusiastically, with the number of exporters increasing by 32 per cent.

Wales also topped the list of regions with businesses focused solely on exporting services, with half of the firms in the region only selling intangible goods abroad.

If you’re thinking of exporting, don’t miss this guide to the exchange rate issues to consider.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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