This is why Manchester is an e-commerce Powerhouse

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With E-Commerce Show North taking place in Manchester this week, Will Grove of Peoplevox looks at why Manchester has become the Powerhouse of the North:

This is why Manchester is an e-commerce Powerhouse

Efforts to reposition the British economy away from a reliance on London and the South East are paying off, particularly when you look at the astonishing growth of Manchester’s e-commerce hub.

Driven by cheaper commercial rents for offices, heavy investment in digital infrastructure and a flourishing entrepreneurial spirit, Manchester has become the single biggest tech-hub outside of London. At £2.9bn, the city now has the UK’s fourth highest total digital turnover and is home to the highest density of online businesses anywhere in the UK.

It’s also birthed some of the UK’s most recognisable fashion e-commerce brands. Boohoo, Missguided, PrettyLittleThing, In The Style and Misspap are all modern brands with a young, Instagram-friendly consumer-base. But they’re also companies with roots in Manchester’s historic reputation as a textiles and cotton hub. It’s the industry that put the city into the global arena in the 19th century and it’s one of the industries that’s doing it again in the 21st century.

Why is e-commerce so successful in the North?

Successful northern e-commerce businesses are starting to put their London counterparts in the shade. People are waking up to the fact that there’s a whole world outside of the M25. For businesses, it makes sense to establish a base in a cheaper city. For consumers, they don’t care whether you’re based in Stockport or Plymouth; their experience of the brand is going to be the same regardless. Online has become a great geographic leveller for a lot of brands.

This levelling isn’t just contained within the UK: increased internet adoption has demolished the barriers to global markets. Just look at Boohoo; it translates its website into 23 different languages. Missguided has eight international online stores. PrettyLittleThing has seven.

E-commerce has been democratised

Manchester hasn’t become a leap pad for global success just because of financial investments that have been made in the area. A lot of the reasons behind these companies’ growth lies at the feet of their founders. Their entrepreneurial spirit, combined with the opportunities provided by the digital revolution, has formed the perfect hotbed for a localised e-commerce boom.

Now, businesses can quickly grow from bedroom projects into massive companies. Ultimately anyone with a credit card, some product and a website can establish an e-commerce company. This is e-commerce, democratised. But while anyone has the ability to start up a new company, it takes an astute mind to make it work.

A 360 approach to e-commerce

A common thread tying together the best e-commerce companies that specialise in the sale of consumer goods is their holistic approach to business. The founders see their businesses grow from the very nascent stages. They’re in control of all operations as they develop. They make it their business to know exactly how each element of their business works. The winners are the people who understand how important this level of knowledge, and control, is.

They’re focused on every element of fulfilment. They know that the UX of their website is just as important as the customer’s experience of the product. And they know how important it is to have their warehouse, and their fulfilment processes, running with watertight precision. They know that fulfilment errors can be the barrier standing in the way of positive word-of-mouth, secured return sales, happy customers. They make sure they get it right.

Happening this week

The North’s leading lights are converging at the E-Commerce Show North this week. Peoplevox will also be there exhibiting; if want to find out how a simple, flexible and scalable Warehouse Management System can help your business then come and say hi.


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