5 questions regarding Scottish independence and ecommerce

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I shall start by disclosing my position: I don’t want Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom. I don’t believe that an independent Scotland is economically viable and anyway, England, Wales and Scotland are better together. The cultural, geographical and historical bonds make us a unit that I want to see persist.

But beside any sentimentality, there are some serious questions to ask and practical issues to address. Here are just a few that spring to mind with regards to ecommerce:

What currency will we be trading in?
Here’s the big question. Will Scotland use Sterling if she becomes independent? Will Scotland be forced to use the Euro in the long run by the EU? Or will it use a new currency? Who knows? Massive uncertainty but maybe not an insurmountable ecommerce problem in time. But a different currency to England will surely make cross-border trading less attractive.

How will it affect couriers and postage?
I wonder what will happen to Royal Mail, for starters. The Universal Service is brilliant for remote areas in Scotland. One rate applies to all, whether you’re in Shepperton or Shetland.

And it will be a boon for the couriers. Many already have surcharges for the more distant parts of Scotland. Independence will be just the excuse they need to up rates and find greater profits for all shipments made to Scotland. Shipping stuff to Ireland is, after all, already more expensive.

What platforms will we be using?
Amazon quite cunningly have one marketplace for the UK and Ireland and seemlessly present that to buyers. eBay have two sites and will be reluctant to provide a third for eBay Scotland. Calls for it will be inevitable though. And what will happen to domain names?

Will there be duties and tariffs?
England and Scotland’s divorce might not be amicable. And in the brave new world of an independent Scotland, that may well be outside of the EU, there’s no certainty that the free movement of goods will persist as a principle. Both English and Scottish governments may be free to practice protectionism on cross-border trades. Not good news.

Will Scottish sellers be shut out?
It might all be just too complex for the big marketplaces. Too much hassle to bring Scottish sellers into eBay and Amazon with all the complications that might entail. And Scotland will be a small country. It might not be worth the investment to ensure that just five million Scots are served. Money might be better spent on 9 million Londoners. eBay or Amazon London would be a more profitable venture than anything tapered to Scots.

What do you reckon?

64 Responses

  1. Sounds like scare mongering a bit, none of these things sound insurmountable.
    Many companies have stated It won’t effect theIr trading with Scotland..
    Why would It… Money money, money honey.. Makes
    the world go round.. Trade will continue.. Any gaps will be plugged, by business..

    Obviously.

  2. were English and live in Scotland and what we say is HELP! the Scots are lemmings leaping off the cliff

  3. It has to be a no and while we are on the subject how much money is all this messing about costing the ‘UK’ tax payer.

    I don’t even believe in having a Scottish, Welsh or NI government even if they are not independent, how much money does all of that waste!!!!

    I read an article once that explained how much it cost in just logo design for all this different public bodies that have to have four different versions and the money involved was scary I can tell you.

    If they vote yes it will be years of chaos trying to sort all this out and cost even more money.

  4. Nice to see the usual uniformed nonsense.

    Scotland contributes more to the exchequer than it receives in spending allocation and has done for each of the last 33 years.

    As an independent nation Scotland would have a higher GDP per capita than the UK currently does.

    If you want to look at trade balance specifically then it’s worth noting that Scotland is a net exporter of goods and contributes a disproportionately large percentage of the UK’s overall export total.

    In terms of public services the vast majority of Scotland’s services, including Police, Fire, Justice, Education and Health are already separate and consistently outperform their English and Welsh counterparts.

    Whether or not you ‘believe’ that the case for Scottish Independence is economically viable or not is irrelevant, it’s not a subjective matter and I doubt you have any facts or economic credentials to substantiate your belief.

    I understood the role of this site to be in discussing e-commerce (primarily marketplace) tips, tricks and news. It really doesn’t look good to stick your oar in about a matter in which you aren’t adding any constructive information merely for sensationalist value.

    Ultimately this is a matter of political self determination for the people of Scotland.

  5. “I don’t believe that an independent Scotland is economically viable and anyway” Could you try to be more condescending?

    “Money might be better spent on 9 million Londoners.” Boris Johnson has been quoted saying much the same thing.

  6. The economic case has not been proven by any means, and I truly hope Scotland stays in the UK.

    Shipping prices to Scotland are bound to increase, plus a small increase to transaction fees.

    If Scotland became independent I also think its a simple fact that a lot of saddened and some angry Brits would ‘vote’ with their wallet, and spend their dosh with rUk sellers, a lot of people like to buy British.

    I think it will generally work in the favour of rUK on-line retailers, but lets hope its doesn’t happen.

  7. I think they should go if they get voted, it was due right before the last recession and and then the topic got closed down because they needed loads of free money from the capital.

    If this means cheaper royal mail rates for the UK, id be quite happy for them to leave as deliveries to highlights via courier are only hassle anyway. We fill them because we feel obligated not because of profit and more often than not end up subsidizing them.

    It seems apparent Scotland wont keep the sterling, they will have there own fluctuating currency, and if you are believe the scots independence arguments this strength would only mean their exports will become overpriced and noncompetitive in an international market.

    Bad news for whiskey and other exporters im afraid.

  8. We are a Scottish trading company and in no way want independence. There really is no need for it. As mentioned we have the ability to send products to Wales, Shetland and even the Channel Islands under one service. It would not only cut off Scotland. It would most likely cut of some other countries who import many of Scotland’s exports. Its not broke. Don’t fix it. BETTERTOGETHER

  9. Dan, i would thank you to check facts before dipping into politics. the quote “I don’t believe that an independent Scotland is economically viable” is an insult. a poorly informed insult.

    anyone with access to the facts can see clearly see that scotland is not only economically viable, but can flourish. how many nations do best when what they need/want is ignored in favour of their neighbours interests?

    please dont jump on the bandwagon of ‘uncertainty’ either. unless you can predict the future after a no vote? will the UK be in europe after the referendum on european independence? will the UK be forced into the euro in 5 – 10 years? how will UKIP do at the next general election and how will that affect things? unless you can answer with absolute certainty, dont be fool enough to point at others who cant predict the future either.

    to address your (mainly sensationalist) qustions:

    what currency will scotland use?
    does it matter to you? if someone purchases on eBay.ie their euros are converted to pounds automatically, you get paid in pounds, why do you care how they paid? you dont.
    (if you can accurately predict future currency fluctuation then please feel free to debate them at length, if you can’t please avoid spreading uncertainty hysteria, as previously requested)

    How will it affect couriers and postage?
    probably not at all. we want to be free, we havent gone insane. nobody is proposing armed border guards and passport checks, there will be no cross border tarriffs. the first courier to raise the price of shipping to scotland after independence will see all their scottish custom move to the next courier. it may even improve things for us here (at the moment i can send an item 400 miles south, for less than it costs to send it 40 miles north). nobody knows how RM will change when their universal service requirement expires (scotland may actually buy back our RM/SM? our MSP’s voted 90% against the sale)

    what platforms will be using?
    it really couldnt matter less. i dont care if they make an eBay.scot that’s an identical mirror of ebay.co.uk , or if its top to tail in tartans and haggis, or if we keep using .co.uk
    it’ll be the same products either way. the seller will be paid exactly the same. it will make zero difference to you south of the border and about as much difference to me (i may take three seconds to update my bookmarks)

    will there be duties and tarriffs?
    massively unlikely, possible, but massively unlikely. like i said, we havent gone insane, we’re not looking to close borders. if there are, they wont be prohibitive. try asking who would actually do that and to what end? does scotland want to choke itself off from the world? is TheNationFormerlyKnownAsTheUK really that bitter? if they are do they want the international community to see it? No.

    Will scottish sellers be shut out?
    did you actually type the sentence “It might not be worth the investment to ensure that just five million Scots are served. Money might be better spent on 9 million Londoners.” with a straight face? as an experienced ecommerce specialist, adult, owner of functioning brain, or participant in capitalist society, please tell me again “a market of 5million you’re already succesful in should just be pulled out of for no valid reason” and expect to be treated with credibility.

    One of your statements sums up perfectly why I’m voting for independence (among a million other reasons)

    “If I was an eBay manager, looking at the expense of developing a eBay Scotland marketplace, it would be a no brainer to me not to spend resources on it when an eBay London site would be far more profitable.”
    -Just replace eBay manager with Westminster Politician in that sentence, that’s basically where we’re at right now. Business Realities.

    Scotlands future should be in Scotlands hands, anywhere else is the wrong place for it. if we make mistakes they’ll be ours to make. if we do things right it’ll be in our interests, not our neighbours.

  10. and now we’re being compared to African colonies? without so much as a hint of irony. oh dear. you really do think that much of us.

    I would thank you to go away and look up a list of what Scotland has given the world. compare it to one of the colonies you compare us to.

    your typical condescending view of us is just one more thing we would gladly wash our hands of, even if it does end up costing me a couple of quid.

    moving on. …

    the original post is nothing but scaremongering, it was Dan challenging Scotland to peer into a crystal ball, not I. I asked the same of you and one could not be provided. so can we all drop the “uncertainty” nonsense once and for all.

    we can agree answers are not being provided. im not surprised. the answers are mainly held by the current powers, and it’s absolutely in their best interest to hide anything that shows how Scotland would be better off.

    the British media has set about a campaign of lies and misinformation.( for example, the mail printed on the same day “UK pensions crisis” in England, and “pensions safer in UK” in Scotland) I’m disgusted that tamebay are jumping on the bandwagon in this sensationalist manner.

    if you have something to contribute to the truth then please do, if you’re merely spreading sensationalist political propaganda then please cease to do so. uncertainty hysteria is not welcome.

    I do know what continuing in the union means for me, it means my nation being overlooked in the interests of the South East. it means my country not getting the government it votes for at every election. it means my sporting heroes being stolen as British when they win and thrown back as Scottish when they lose….

    I’m happy to debate the politics of it all day long, this is not the place for it, so if you can stick to ecommerce and fact I’ll endeavour to do the same.

  11. One thing we have learnt, is that should the Scottish nationalists gain their much wanted independence. It won’t be because they are full of mirth….

  12. I wish England, Wales and N. Ireland also had a vote to decide the outcome of the United Kingdom.
    As an Englishman, I am incensed that English laws are decided by Welsh, Irish And Scottish MP’s, whereas we have no say in their parliamentary affairs.
    Why is it that I cannot write my nationality as English on hotel registration forms (I have to be British) whereas Scots, Irish And Welsh can use their national identities?
    The discussion regarding Scottish Independence will continue until Susan Boyle sings, but I’m certain there will not be an Independent Scotland.
    For Scotland to remain in the EU, all 28 member countries must agree to their membership. Spain will not, as they do not want the Catalans to become independent, and giving Scotland the nod would only give Catalans more reason to fight for independence from Spain.
    An independent Scotland would go the same way as Rhodesia. Scottish translation of Zimbabwe is Ochaythenooland. Can’t wait to see if Alec Salmond grows a ‘tache like Mugabe’s!
    You can call me cynical. I resemble that remark.

  13. Postage costs and currency are relatively minor considerations although there is little doubt Royal Mail in Scotland will become independent and will therefore either have to increases prices or attract significant subsidies from a newly independent Scottish state.

    Scotland is the least densely populated country in Northern Europe and has the most remotely dispersed population so it’s pretty certain there will be a significant increase in postage costs without the huge global service subsidy Scotland currently attracts from Royal Mail.

    But this will apply to all public services. But these are minor issues in comparison to the Spanish blocking an independent Scotland joining the eu due the fears over the basque separatists and mass migration of the financial service sector to the city of London in the event of independence.

    Everywhere you look the numbers and issues don’t stack up but there are plenty that want to ignore the facts. Personally I hope they leave the union there is little doubt medium to long term the rest of the uk will be better off financially.

  14. Scotland is the least densely populated country in Northern Europe …. ‘

    If you ignore certain countries including (but not limited to):

    Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Russia (includes non-European areas) ……

  15. If Scotland gains independence it is not going to sink into the sea, sorry its just not.

    It is just as unlikely to bankrupt, I have yet to see any evidence for this claim.

    Will it have problems? of course it will and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves, they will have all the problems of a newly independent country and knowing Scotlands luck a few more beside .

    All that said the problems will be Scotlands problems and I am sure they can all be sorted out.

    The vote? it will be close , head over heart and history always is, I would prefer a landslide one way or the other and have an end to it.

    oh and yes I am Scottish, live in England but I am proud of Scotland and all its faults.

  16. We are in Scotland on the border. England is 10 mins away. Make no difference if I post in England or in Scotland. Will make no difference to sales or revenue for us.

    I am a NO voter, however the better together campaign do my head in.

    Scotland can use whatever currency they want that’s fact, how much control they have over that currency is another matter.

    I don’t understand why we are better together, What’s in it for England?. (Scottish Parliament is supposedly a burden on the british economy)
    I think the YES vote is too early. Scotlands economy needs to stronger and more sustainable.

  17. Now that Alex Salmond has raised this issue, it wont go away. Every few years there will be some kind of fuss about scotland going independent. Because its been allowed to go on. In the end scotland will leave regardless. Because its just easier to blame England for its problems.

    GO i say, Walk out the door, Dont turn around now, your not welcome anymore.

    When i ask Scotland, ‘Just what is it you want to do !’

    The answer is

    ‘I mean yeahhhh, We wanna be free, Free to do what we wanna do, and we wanna ride, we wanna be free to ride our machines with out being hassled by the MAN…

    And we wanna get loaded, YEAAAAH

    and we wanna have a good time……

    and thats what Scotlands gonna do ….. were gonna have a good time ! …. Were gonna have a party !’

    GO SCOTLAND !

  18. let Scotland go. I dont want my tax money wasted on 5 million popl when theres 6 million in london alone.

    They may have some oil, but pay back the companies that invested in it, In haggis and whiskey and be gone with you !

  19. I meant to say waste millions every few years on compaigns to pursuade 5 millon scots to stay in england. When 6 million alone in london!

    Let the scots.

    Build a major airport
    Build a major finacial hub
    Build a nuclear defense and deterant
    Build a national army, that is repsected globaly
    Build a major shipping port
    Build up a reputation as an important global country
    Build up relations independantly of England with key strategic global partners.
    Build a currency that known through out the world and once the global trading currency
    Build a capital globally respected and important as london
    Send troops around the world to maintain global stability and aid in disaster relief

    If Alex salmond can do all these things and 100s more from North sea oil.

    I’d like to see him try.

  20. Yeah it was Duncan MacCloud, he was in charge all the time. Rather than ‘one person’ being in charge most of the time.

  21. I’m English and take a very different view on independence for Scotland. I’m a democrat and, beyond that, consider my political leanings to be irrelevant. This isn’t a matter that greatly concerns me at all. If the majority of Scots wish to go it alone then so be it. No need to get uptight about it, the sun will still rise in the morning either side of the border.

    Scotland can quite easily exist as an indepedent nation whether or not they are granted EU membership. To do this they will have to live within their means and organise budgets accordingly. Many small nations do it and there’s no reason why Scotland can’t even when the oil runs dry.

    On defence a small nation is simply wasting money funding a bloated defence force as they can never hope to match China, Russia or the US (or the UK even). They may see it as sensible to fund fishery protection vessels, maritime aircraft to keep a watch on oil and gas fields and maintain a small army for ceremonial use (tourism income) and/or the UN funded peacekeeping business (as Fiji does).

    You don’t need to look at the post war decolonisation of the empire or even the disgracefully corrupt regimes of modern day Africa to find comparisons. It’s not that long since we had a fairly messy divorce with most of Ireland. Today Eire is an independent nation and, would you believe it, the lights still work there. When their banks and economy went round the U bend due to the constraints of the single currency their ex (The UK) was quick to offer a huge loan over and above the bail out by the EU and IMF. Why? Because, apart from being a good neighbour, it was in our interests to make sure Irish businesses could pay outstanding bills to British suppliers and continue buying from us.

    Now Ireland doesn’t maintain much of an army and they don’t have the kind of oil industry Scotland would have for some years yet. But they have some great brands and they do well with bloodstock, agriculture and their tourism industry could be a model to any country. Scotland can do equally well.

    People complain that there is a lack of real facts in this debate and tend to point the fingers at the nationists as if they should have all the answers. Why? And how can they have many of these answers to hand when nobody will negotiate a deal with them until they’re independent?

    So best of luck to the Scots. If they choose independence I’m sure eBay will buy the domain from Scotland’s own internet registry and you will still see a well known supermarket in most Scottish towns just as you do in Ireland. I’ve absolutely no doubt a free trade agreement between the UK and Scotland will be in place within no time if EU membership is refused. Remember Norway isn’t in the EU but has all the benefits of membership (and doesn’t use the Euro). So you don;t have to join the EU if you’re willing to adopt EU ways.

    Those wanting independence aren’t so stupid that they don’t realise they will have to make their own choices on what benefits their nation can pay to the young, the elderly and the vulnerable. They know they will have to decide how much they can afford to plough in to public services and, no doubt, realise all too well that some issues like retirement age & pensions, dental/health charges, tuition costs, highways, railways might or might not be given as high a priority in an independent Scotland compared to the UK. They will have to cut their cloth to fit.

    It’s likely there would be times when Scotland seems to struggle compared to the UK. There would also be times when Scotland seems to boom. Eire was booming before the Euro bubble burst, that’s the way it happens. It’s highly unlikely the Scots will risk everything again trying to ship wigs to Panama and set up a colony so I doubt we would have to ever consider letting Scotland rejoin the Union.

    As a divorced man I can tell you it pays great dividends long term to accept reality, not view this as rejection, and leave the Scots to determine their own future without attempting to influence anyone with scare stories disguised as questions or opinions claimed as facts.

    All that said, if I was running a business in Scotland that sells beyond the Scottish border I would vote “No” in the forthcoming referendum for obvious, selfish reasons but I can well understand why many other Scots are attracted to independence. Let the majority view prevail and best of luck to them whatever the outcome. One thing I can say with certainty is their football team will still be crap.

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