Business development · 13 October 2017

Micro companies are failing to grapple Britain’s £130bn ecommerce boom

Micro business owners see fewer than a tenth of sales come through their website
Micro business owners see fewer than a tenth of sales come through their website

Britain’s smallest firms are not seeing the fruits of Britain’s booming ecommerce economy, as new research finds that large businesses make a significantly higher proportion of sales through online channels.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a recent boom in online sales has seen the value of Britain’s ecommerce economy reach £130bn per year. Sales through websites, mobile sites and apps rose 21 per cent in December 2016 alone and are expected to continue taking a growing share of all transactions in 2018.

However, further ONS research found that micro business owners see fewer ten per cent of their sales come through online channels. Compared to 56 per cent seen at Britain’s largest firms, the data confirmed that it is the smallest companies missing out most from the growing draw of online shopping.

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Small business support network Enterprise Nation has taken it upon itself to tackle the knowledge gaps among micro business owners, helping to provide on-the-ground assistance to entrepreneurs struggling to harness the potential of ecommerce.

Commenting on the ONS figures, Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said the vastly different resource levels at large businesses allowed for unlimited investment in the latest ecommerce and mobile commerce functional, SEO, digital marketing “and everything in between”.

“Smaller firms have been slower on the uptake over the years, and seem to have less appetite for it,” Jones added. “They are busy simply running the business and don’t always see the benefits that digital can deliver.

“And yet the digital world is an area that they absolutely can compete with larger firms on.”

As a partner for Enterprise Nation’s campaign to help micro business owners make the most out of Britain’s ecommerce boom, Jim O’Hagan, B2B director for Currys PC World Business, said the numerous responsibitlies carried by entrepreneurs put them at a disadvantage.

“With everything from sales and staffing, to accounting and costs to worry about, it’s no wonder that many small businesses are missing a trick when it comes to realising their potential online,” he said.

“UK consumers spend more online per household than consumers in any other country, meaning the opportunity is ripe for small businesses looking to expand online.”

How to remain competitive in ecommerce in 2018

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


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