Business development · 3 January 2018

Nine in ten small businesses expect to sell online by the end of 2018

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More and more retailers are selling online via their own mobile apps

Some 90 per cent of small UK business owners intend to sell their products online by the end of the year, new research has shown.

The figure represents a huge increase on the 64 per cent of owners which currently claim to sell online. The data is taken from Amazon UK and Capital Economics’ SME Growth Tracker for the final three months of 2017.

This growing interest in ecommerce is thought to be driven by a surge in small UK business owners planning to sell items via their own company websites in the year ahead.

The research found that whilst 50 per cent of small business owners made plans to sell online through their own sites last year, 68 per cent intend to do so in 2018.

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Some 24 per cent of small firms plan to sell online via their own mobile apps in the next 12 months, compared with 13 per cent which did so last year, demonstrating the widening uptake of the technology.

Meanwhile, the proportion of small businesses intending to sell online through third party platforms rose from 21 per cent to 27 per cent since last year.

Overall, the data showed that smaller retailers which sold online were far more positive about their outlook for the year ahead than those which didn’t.

Commenting on the data, the project’s chief economist at Capital Economics, Mark Pragnell, said: “While the figures show confidence remains low among SMEs as a whole, ecommerce users are less pessimistic about business conditions over the next twelve months. This is perhaps due to their expected increase in revenue over the festive period from online sales.”

Indeed, the study found the small businesses that used ecommerce expected much faster revenue and job growth in 2018 compared with those that didn’t. Small ecommerce firms predicted revenue growth of 1.9 per cent and job growth of 0.8 per cent, compared with 0.6 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively for those non-ecommerce businesses.

Pragnell added: “Given these results, it is no wonder that more SMEs expect to start using digital tools to sell goods and services in 2018. Our thermometer of SME confidence remains below zero, with few owners and managers still seeing a lot of headwinds in the economy.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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