Help for 1 million more small businesses to get online in 2017

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This morning Matt Hancock the Minister of State for Digital and Culture and Murray Lambell, Senior Director of UK Trading at eBay spoke at Somerset House to launch Do It Digital’s goal of helping 1 million small businesses get more out of digital in 2017.

Do It Digital is a campaign to get small businesses digitally engaged and is kicking off 2017 with a call to all organisations to make a commitment to accelerating the pace of small business digital engagement. Everyone from eBay, Enterprise Nation, Google and The Federation of Small Businesses, to The British Library are getting involved with a commitment to set a goal of helping businesses succeed.

Amazingly some 14% of small businesses still have no Internet presence. That’s not just no website, it’s no Facebook, twitter or other social media – no online presence at all

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said “Digital knowhow can help firms save money, increase profits and improve productivity, yet too many firms still do not use websites, trading platforms or social media channels. It is essential we take every opportunity to create the world-leading businesses of tomorrow, so I welcome Do It Digital’s campaign and pledges from other organisations to increase digital skills in small businesses.”

The launch of eBay for Business

eBay for BusinessMatt Hancock then introduced eBay’s Murray Lambell to announce the launch of eBay for Business – an initiative to provide tools, guidance and resources to small businesses looking to get more digital in 2017.

Small businesses in Britain without digital infrastructure including a website, social media channels or a presence on an online marketplace are missing out on £20.2 billion in revenue each year, according to new research from Development Economics, commissioned by eBay. This equates to £20,000 in increased revenue or efficiency savings per business, across all sectors from retail to manufacturing.

Murray cited Bristol-based Bookbarn International, which launched as a physical book store in 2000, but in 2008 started selling on a website and digital marketplaces. Today, it has an annual turnover of £1.2m, with up to 85% of this coming from its online business.

Bookbarn Director, William Pryor said: “Taking the business online seemed slightly daunting at first, due to the large volume of books we needed to create listings for, but the speed and volume of sales we started seeing straightaway quickly made it all worth it!

Yet more support is needed to help small businesses embrace the opportunity that ecommerce presents. According to YouGov, a quarter of SMEs surveyed have no website, four in ten no social media channels and nearly three quarters lack a presence an online marketplace.

Marray explained “Our sellers tell us that there are clear benefits to going online, with access to our marketplace enabling a British small business to export to markets as far afield as Australia or Canada with ease. If we can help the final fifth of small businesses without digital infrastructure close that gap, our research shows that the UK will see clear benefits in terms of jobs and growth – and small businesses themselves will see an average growth of £20,000 in revenue.”

He added “We are launching eBay for Business today to provide tools, guidance and resources for small businesses who are looking to make the leap.”

What to expect from eBay for Business

Together with a strong network of partners, eBay for Business will reach out to small businesses across the country offering support, guidance and access to tools and resources. It will also offer training for small businesses on a range of topics, from selling your first item to visual merchandising and becoming a fully online retailer.

Whilst it’s early days, look out for announcements of local eBay training and education events around the country in 2017.

More Do It Digital Pledges

Google pledged to expand their Google Digital Garage training to another 100 cities and towns.

The British Library’s Business and IP Centres pledged to train another 10,000 start-ups and small businesses.

Enterprise Nation pledged to digitally train another 20,000 start-ups and small businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses pledged to support its 200,000 members with a range of digital schemes.

4 Responses

  1. Hope this takes off as well as it should do; there are a lot of businesses in the Westcountry with little or no web presence

  2. In many rural areas across the UK the problem lies mostly with poor broadband speeds and other issues which the individual business owner is powerless to solve.

  3. It’s great to hear that the government and other key players such as eBay are supporting UK small businesses to get online.

    Undoubtably, this will increase online trade in the UK and overseas markets particularly with support from other government initiatives such as ‘Exporting Is Great’.

    However, getting businesses online is great, but from my experience many SMEs find it difficult to maximize sales from online channels such Marketplaces, website, social media etc. More work needs to be done in this area and personally very passionate in achieving this.

    Credit to the minister and Murray Lambell – a great step forward

  4. “Taking the business online seemed slightly daunting at first”

    Can’t have been that daunting as he bought Bookbarn in 2013, five years after they started trading online.

    I think that any company that needs help to get online in 2017 is either hopelessly mismanaged or outdated. I would think that William Pryor as the Great Great Grandson of Charles Darwin would see that companies that can’t evolve without assistance would be better dying off.


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