SMEs Lag Behind as UK Online Retail Market Grows

The UK’s online retail market is set to grow by 13% in 2012 – bringing in £77bn according to research conducted by Interactive Media in Retail Groups (IMRG). This makes the UK second to the US in the global online market in terms of market value.

John Andrews, managing director of IMRG, said:

“This means that British retailers export more than the rest of Europe’s e-retailers put together. It is a huge business — our research found that there were 228,000 UK online retail businesses, that’s an estimated 30% more than the year before.”

IMRG anticipates that this number will double to 1.5 million by 2015.

The British dominance in online retail is one of the main topics of discussion at the British Business Embassy at Lancaster House in London on August the 9th. Developed by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), this event is the centrepiece of the Government’s international business legacy programme taking place during London 2012’s Olympic Games.

However, not all businesses are embracing online opportunities, according to recent research by the European Commission’s Digital Agenda. It reveals that only 14% of British small businesses sold their products online over the last year, despite the fact that 71% of British people currently shop online and 81% of Britons use the internet at least once a week.

Adam Stewart, marketing director of said:

“It was frustrating to read statistics from the European Commisssion’s Digital Agenda team which revealed that just 14% of small businesses sell their products online, despite the fact that 71% of Brits currently shop online. The internet should be liberating Britain’s smaller retailers. The web is essentially a customisable shop front, requiring minimal infrastructure costs, while attracting footfall beyond the confines of the high street.”

To give your online retail business a boost you might like to read Actinic CEO Chris Barling’s excellent business advice article Selling Successfully Online or watch his accompanying video Selling Successfully Online (Video)

If you’re interested in expanding your small business abroad then see the advice in our Exporting section.

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