eBay report: The growth of Britain's digital SMBs is vital for Britain

In new research released today, eBay has identified the growth and expansion of Britain’s digital small businesses as vital to the Government reaching its trade target of £1 trillion exports by 2020.

eBay’s Small Business Exports Index revealed that, of the 200,000 small digital firms surveyed, 52 per cent view new markets as “lands of opportunity” and the expansion of overseas trade features in 13 per cent of small digital business’s strategies for 2016.

Furthermore, 93 per cent fulfilled overseas sales in 2015 and only 32 per cent of small digital firms consider Europe to be a key market, with the United States, Australia, Germany, France and Italy being the top five most popular destinations for British exports via eBay.

Kit Glover, Director of Professional Selling & Cross Border Trade at eBay said: “More small online businesses are expanding into new markets with increasing vigor and we’re seeing growing numbers of micro-multinational 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.”

Despite the optimism, small business owners are calling for more government support, with two thirds (63 per cent) wanting more help than is currently provided. One in four (27 per cent) are being put off exporting due to delivery and logistical challenges, and 13 per cent by language barriers.

To help small businesses out, Kit Glover has identified four top tips for online retailers exporting overseas:

  1. Take advantage of cool Britannia

The UK has an excellent reputation around the world when it comes to retail. UK brands and businesses are held in high esteem, so use this to your advantage. Make it clear where you’re based and capitalise on selling the best of British – for example, British fashion is in particular demand.

  1. Streamline payment

Distance is no object with globalised exporting, but if customers can’t pay for their goods easily, they won’t buy from you. Make sure you accept international payment methods such as credit cards and payment platforms like PayPal.

  1. Be ship-shape

Consumers are looking for speedy delivery (10-14 days), low cost, and reliable shipping services. eBay sellers can enroll for free into the Global Shipping Programme; international postage charges and any applicable customs charges are automatically shown on listings, and paid by buyers. Parcels can simply be posted to the UK Shipping Centre using your usual postage service along with a tracking code, and parcels can then be tracked by both buyer and seller.

  1. Leverage language

In the European market, language translation and local online platforms are key to engaging foreign audiences. eBay’s International Growth Programme, in partnership with translation service WebInterpret, is one way to translate listings into other languages.

While shared languages, such as the US, Australia and Canada make entering these markets easier, remember to consider how consumers abroad search for your products – replace colour with color, for example.

Image source: Shutterstock/watcharakun