Online marketplace eBay today announces a 12-month partnership with Wolverhampton to help small retailers get online, grow the local economy and demonstrate that online and high street retail can coexist.
The partnership will run for 12 months and see experts from the marketplace stationed in the city to provide exclusive support to small retailers who want to start up or expand their online presence.
The announcement comes as new research commissioned by eBay and conducted by YouGov and Development Economics shows that a quarter (25%) of small retailers do not have an online presence aimed at generating sales – defined as a website, social media channels or a presence on an online marketplace. Worryingly, nearly a quarter (71%) said they had no plans to close this ‘digital gap’ in the future. The research shows that were these businesses to close the ‘digital gap’, they could benefit from as much as £4.1 billion in extra sales revenue each year. This equates to £19,250 in additional annual revenue per individual business currently without an online presence.
Expert support for small retailers
The partnership will see eBay provide the following support to Wolverhampton’s retailers, who can apply to participate at www.ebayinc.com/wolverhampton
- Onboarding assistance – one-on-one support to create a personalised eBay shop, including their full inventory.
- Training – Retail Revival sellers will participate in a comprehensive training program that covers eBay selling basics, strategies for getting the most out of eBay’s platform as well as digital skills such as SEO, online advertising and social media marketing.
- Store Subscription – Retail Revival sellers receive a complimentary one-year Premium store subscription, which offers free listings, shipping supplies and other valuable perks.
- Promotional support – eBay will highlight and help drive traffic to participating sellers’ eBay stores through a dedicated landing page on eBay.co.uk. eBay will also feature select Retail Revival sellers across its online and social media channels
- Dedicated customer services support – Retail Revival sellers have access to a dedicated customer service team that will provide strategic guidance and troubleshooting support to enable their growth on eBay.
eBay will work with research consultancy Development Economics to evaluate the partnership as it progresses and create a blueprint that can be adopted by other UK towns to bolster their retail businesses.
Rob Hattrell, vice president of eBay in the UK said: “We know that customer shopping behaviour is changing – but online should play an important part in helping businesses in our local communities to thrive. I’ve seen that Wolverhampton businesses have the creativity matched with the entrepreneurial skill to create products needed and wanted all over the world – and eBay will help them to sell in the way they want to online. We should be very proud of the incredible strength of the small businesses of the UK and must seek to empower them more.”
Welcoming the new initiative, City of Wolverhampton council leader, councillor Roger Lawrence, said: “I’m delighted a global brand like eBay has chosen to work with us on an initiative which is the first of its kind in the UK. We value our small retailers that bring so much character to our city centre and we have recognised their achievements through the Wolverhampton Independent Retail Excellence (WIRE) Awards over the last two years.
“eBay’s will provide valuable support to city retailers in the wake of a challenging national retail climate affected by changes in consumer behaviour and the economy. It is an exciting programme that will help businesses with their digital marketing and sales skills, giving them a solid platform for sustainable growth.
“In an increasingly digital world, such skills are ever more important to business success and survival, complementing and boosting in-store, over the counter sales.
“We announced in July we will establish a city centre commission to further develop our strategic vision for the city centre. This programme will help shape our thinking and make the most of the £1 billion of investment currently on site or planned in the city centre.”
Custom backpacks set for eBay boost
One of the businesses participating in the Retail Revival programme is Goodstart Jones, a Wolverhampton-based manufacturer of custom bags, backpacks and luggage. Owner Paul Jones said: “As a small, independent business we focus 90% of our time on making our products the best they can be. This means it can be hard to find the time to reach customers at scale, which is why we are so thrilled to be a part of this project. We’re a proud Wolverhampton business and we want to use the internet to show the world what we can do. We’re excited to learn how to expand our business online, export to international markets, and do our bit to boost the local economy. We’re also excited to meet other local entrepreneurs at the training events, so we hope lots of local businesses will sign up.”
Retail Revival builds on e-commerce pedigree
A business in Wolverhampton that has already seen the benefits of selling online is Almaskiya. Founded by Mohammed Agha to support his family following their arrival from Syria in 2013, the business sells a variety of products, including kitchenware, homeware and traditional Islamic items.
Since starting his business, Moh has also used eBay to support others fleeing conflict, and has trained almost 90 people on how to create an account, research, price and sell on the platform.
Describing the online opportunity for Wolverhampton’s retailers, Moh – who has both an international business presence and exports around the world – said: “eBay has given me fantastic opportunities and allowed me to start a successful business with ease. It’s helped me create a better life for me, my family and has helped me teach others in a similar situation. It’s great to see the project coming to Wolverhampton where I hope other entrepreneurs will have the same experience.”