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Small businesses that trade online are more likely to export: eBay study

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The vast majority of small businesses selling on eBay sold their goods abroad last year, the marketplace has revealed.

Some 409 small businesses trading via the eBay platform were questioned for the eBay Small Business Exports Index, which found 93% fulfilled overseas orders in 2015, exporting to an average of 20 different territories. By comparison, 28% of businesses that do not trade online fulfilled international orders last year, the has found.

More than half (52%) of those questioned say that exporting is about finding “lands of opportunity” in new markets, rather than about risk. One in three (32%) see Europe as a key market, and the top five most popular destinations for British eBay exports are the United States, Australia, Germany, France and Italy.

More than one in 10 (13%) said they planned to expand their overseas trade in 2016.

“More small online businesses are expanding into new markets with increasing vigour 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.”

Electrical goods specialist Electrolve sells to 127 markets from its Grimsby headquarters. Owner Oliver Margasson said: “Operating from our Grimsby warehouse, the business benefits from strong transport links and courier services; the kind of agile infrastructure from which we can quickly source and sell our products internationally. With consumers around the world getting wealthier, and governments investing in better internet access, our international trade has grown to account for 60% of total sales.”

These small businesses, however, want more Government help. Some 63% say they want more help than currently provided, while 27% are put off exporting by delivery and logistical challenges, and 13% by language barriers.

Lesley Batchelor, Director General of the Institute of Export, which is running the government-backed Open to Export scheme, said: ‘Many small businesses are often put off from exporting by difficulties ranging from tariff codes to cultural issues and language barriers. But to realise the Government’s ambitious target of £1 trillion exports by 2020, many more small and medium size businesses in Britain need to start selling their wares abroad.”

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