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Smaller etailers see 2016 as the year of mobile, but are concerned over wifi and connectivity

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A study by YouGov of 400 eBay and other online small and medium sized etailers finds that 62% are expecting mobile to give their sales a boost this year, with 32% saying mobile will be vital to their growth in 2016.

This comes despite concerns that connectivity issues and the patchy provision of services like 4G and WIFI may hold their businesses back.

The study predicts that, over the next 12 months 36% of these etailers anticipate mobile sales growing by up to 10% and one in five (21%) expect to see sales increase by up to 30%.

These encouraging statistics point to the continued growth of the UK’s e-commerce sector, which in the last year recorded figures generated £573 billion in sales.

Andrew Grant, Managing Director of Surrey based lingerie and swimwear company Clara Olivia, believes mobile connectivity is vital for the future of his etail business.

He says: “Staying ahead of the mobile curve is key for us in 2016. Around 50% of ecommerce trading is now via mobile, so we’re building a new mobile friendly business homepage to drive sales and trigger further growth.

“Having noticed our regular eBay customers – typically “on-the-go” females – are increasingly purchasing on their mobile phone or tablet, we’ve taken steps to recognise this trend as part of the wider businesses strategy and critical to the shopping experience of our consumers.”

“Businesses are now fully realising the benefits of the mobile revolution” adds Andy Towers, Head of Mobile at eBay UK. “Mobile optimised sites and apps like eBay’s are helping customers to access technology that was once preserve of just the big etailers, and they are reaping the benefits.”

However, in a clear warning that more needs to be done for the mobile’s impact on business growth to be fully realised, more than a third of SMBs (38 %) feel held back by insufficient 3G and 4G coverage across the UK.

Communications regulator Ofcom recently published an online map, which enables users to check average broadband speed in their area. It revealed Grimsby as having the fastest download speed in the UK (46.8 average Mbps). In contrast, Na h Eileanan an lar in the Outer Hebrides was the slowest, averaging 5.6 Mbps.

Small business owners are also dissatisfied with the state of UK broadband by a margin of nearly two to one (63 % are dissatisfied), with over half (56 %) calling on the Government to improve wired and wireless internet access to help SMBs. Almost half (48%) say the Government should improve Wifi in public spaces and on public transport to realise the potential of flexible working.

These businesses are not just based in rural communities, but across the UK, indicating widespread room for improvement.

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