‘SMBs are optimistic about the future, despite tough trading conditions,’ says eBay VP


Many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are optimistic about the future, despite tough trading conditions,” is the phrase that Rob Hattrell uses when summarising how positive Millenial entrepreneurs remain as Brexit approaches.

Despite being portrayed as the age group most concerned about the UK ending its membership with the EU, 78% of 18 to 34-year-old owners of SMBs remain “optimistic” about their business’ growth prospects in 2019. Whereas, just over a third (37%) of entrepreneurs aged 35+ express the optimism, suggest the new figures released as part of eBay’s Small Business Barometer and based on research conducted by Populus. Some 505 UK owners and directors from small and medium-sized enterprises ( SMEs) were surveyed between January 2nd & 6th 2019.

The survey also says that 62% of SMBs are planning to increase investment into their businesses this year in a bid to make their products more attractive to shoppers.

SMBs five risks to growth

While sellers are showing a positive attitude, merchants in the eBay Small Business Barometer poll identified five risks that could limit their growth this year. Brexit was the leading factor (32%), followed by a reduction in consumer spending (26%). These were closely followed by business worries about “an unpredictable political or economic incident” (24%), being undercut by big businesses offering similar products (16%) and concerns relating to “a weak pound making imports more expensive” (15%).

While there is some uncertainty that comes with Brexit, I’m excited about our prospects for the year ahead and I’m confident that we can weather the storm and mitigate any short-term hiccups. The business has been going from strength to strength on eBay and we’re currently on track to surpass our target of £1.1 million turnover for the next year. Every month we’re looking to grow our product range and we’re also looking to bring on more staff, as well as expand our warehouse space to cope with increasing demand
– – Tom Schott, founder, of Schott Packaging

The fact that so many small to medium-sized businesses are optimistic about the future, despite tough trading conditions, is a testament to the skills of agile and innovative UK entrepreneurs. 200,000 SMEs trade on eBay in the UK, selling to over 170 million consumers worldwide, and they are quick to spot opportunities and adapt to challenges. Clearly, there are economic risks in 2019, with Brexit and consumer confidence chief among the concerns, but we see that small retailers have the flexibility to adapt and thrive. The businesses we are working within Wolverhampton grew revenues by 41% in the first three months of our Retail Revival partnership, showing how offline and online retail can work together.
– Rob Hattrell, vice president, eBay UK

eBay continues to help businesses in Wolverhampton achieve online growth through their Retail Revival programme, a partnership with the city council to help small retailers online. The scheme is designed to help both bricks and mortar retailers and online players make the most of digital retail. In January, the 64 participating businesses had grown revenues by 41% and collectively reached £1 million in sales, just three months after the programme’s launch.

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