Belfast Telegraph

Almost nine in 10 SMEs expected to be selling online by end of 2018 in UK

By Kalyeena Makortoff

Britain's small and medium-sized businesses could see higher sales next year if they follow through with plans to expand online in 2018, a new report found.

The number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) trading online is set to rise to 88% over the next 12 months, compared to the 64% that currently take advantage of e-commerce, a report by Capital Economics and commissioned by Amazon has found.

A growing proportion plan to offer online sales via their own company's website next year, up from 50% this year to 68% by the end of 2018, while a growing number of SMEs plan to increase the use of their own mobile apps to boost trade, up from 13% to 24%.

Meanwhile, the number of firms looking to sell through third-party platforms is set to increase from 21% to 27%.

Firms that embrace e-commerce expect faster revenue and jobs growth over 2018, with online retail adopters expecting a 1.9% rise in sales compared to a 0.6% rise among firms that do not trade online. SMEs with e-commerce operations are forecast to see a 0.8% rise in jobs growth, compared to 0.4% from those without online sales. Amazon's UK country manager Doug Gurr said: "The contrast in performance between businesses who use e-commerce and those that don't is significant, so it's reassuring for the UK economy to see small businesses investing in digital.

"The impact digital tools and services have on a small business cannot be underestimated.

"They can improve productivity, boost revenue growth and provide real export power for SMEs."

However, Ofcom recently found that around 1.1 million, or 4%, of UK properties still cannot get decent broadband to meet their needs, with 230,000 SMEs hampered by slow internet connections. However, the communications watchdog said that coverage was improving and said it was taking steps to improve broadband coverage by promoting industry-wide investment in a full-fibre network.

Belfast Telegraph

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