Online traders add £11bn to UK exports

Small businesses selling products in an online marketplace helped to unlock £11 billion in UK export growth in 2016, a report has claimed.

International payments provider WorldFirst found 13% of SMEs with fewer than 50 employees are globally trading on platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

Online transactions to an international market saw 55% of small businesses experience growth in the last year, with 29% experiencing annual growth of more than a fifth.

1 in 5 SMEs intend to follow suit in the next 12 months, while 43% intend to take on more staff in the next year as exports continue to grow.

The report also predicts that global sales among small businesses will double by 2020, bringing an estimated £21.3 billion in additional revenue from exports.

Jeremy Cook, chief economist at WorldFirst, said:

"Online sales are rising year on year and a key driver of that growth is a band of online sellers using marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to build high-growth, multinational businesses.

"While these businesses are not on your local high street, they are making waves on the global iStreet that has in part replaced it.

"These businesses are benefitting from this access to target new customers in new markets - and they're reshaping UK exporting in the process."

Export plans

"Small businesses that export are more likely to survive, grow and innovate," said Martin McTague, national policy director at the Federation of Small Businesses.

Creating your first export plan is not dissimilar to writing a business plan.

It allows you to clearly understand your objectives, create an effective strategy and highlight the resources (financial or otherwise) you need to realise your ambitions.

Your plan should include:

  • analysis of the potential benefits and risks of expanding overseas
  • strategies for managing the logistical and regulatory challenges exporting will present
  • marketing strategy outlining how you will find new markets to target
  • an awareness of potential changes you need to make to your operations in order to do business effectively in new markets
  • financial plan and a breakdown of other resources you will need to begin.

We can help devise your exports strategy.