SME advice hub urges small retailers to explore online export potential

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Leading small business advice hub Ingenious Britain has urged small business owners to give greater consideration to the potential of the online export market after new research suggested it offered untapped potential.

The survey of 1,000 SME owners, conducted by YouGov on behalf of currency firm Caxton FX, found that whilst international trade offered huge growth potential, just 13% of UK retail companies actually traded overseas in 2013; and this, despite the British retail export market being worth £24 billion. 

A second report conducted by Royal Mail found, however, that small online retailers are increasingly looking to international markets. 59% of SME retailers who export say they are targeting international sales growth this year, while 68% say they will be targeting new overseas markets to help them expand internationally.

“Small businesses recognise the potential that online overseas trade can offer their business,” said Ingenious Britain CEO Marlon Wolff.  “However, many hold back because they lack the confidence and the knowledge of how to begin trading overseas and they perceive there to be a mountain of red tape involved. Yet trading online can offer easier access to overseas markets.” 

Wolff says many SMEs already trading internationally are doing it well, but that more help is needed for those who are nervous about targeting overseas markets.

“We need to encourage small retailers to take advantage of online technology to have the confidence to go out there and discover new opportunities. There are many organisations and trade bodies out there able to provide advice for small retail businesses looking to take their first steps overseas.”

The Royal Mail survey suggested English-speaking nations remain the strongest regions for potential growth. The USA and Canada, already strong export destinations, lead the way as the most popular targets for UK e-retailers planning to expand to new international markets in 2014. The survey also found 32% of small retailers were planning to develop a website with the domain address of the country they are targeting, while 21% are planning targeting direct mail campaigns in those territories.

Ingenious Britain was established in 2011 as a collaborative network of small businesses and a multi-platform resource and advice hub. Small businesses can interact via its web site (www.ingeniousbritain.biz) and via its social platforms on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus.