Over 60 local small businesses have bene trained in ecommerce skills by eBay and it’s paid off with Retail Revival growth rates averaging 33% and total sales for the small group of businesses exceeding £7million over the 12 months the programme has been running.
he results reveal that taking a grassroots approach in supporting small and medium-sized retailers can provide a much-needed boost to local economies, offering a potential antidote to the high street doom and gloom. It also demonstrates the wider possibilities that, if the right support is put in place, it’s possible to accelerate businesses on eBay and for many their Retail Revival growth was from zero to an average of over £100,000 per year turnover.
With over half of the participating businesses having a physical shop, the programme was designed to test how online and offline can complement each other to help local economies thrive through retail. Economic analysis shows that the Retail Revival programme brought over £750,000 of additional business revenue to the city of Wolverhampton, meaning the revenue was not diverted from another local business, and genuine economic growth was achieved.
The average Retail Revival growth rate of 33% was 26.5% higher than the average increase in turnover for all small retail businesses across the UK between 2017 and 2018 according to data from the ONS Annual Business Survey. The average increase in turnover for small retailers was 6.5%. The programme has been a testbed for future SME growth and, if rolled out nationally, eBay estimates it could generate £227 million in revenue for small retailers across the UK.
Through the Retail Revival programme, experts from eBay trained small retailers in either starting or expanding their online presence in a bid to grow the local economy. Participants on the programme have benefitted from one-on-one support to create a personalised eBay shop, a comprehensive training program that covers eBay selling basics as well as digital skills such as Search Engine Optimisation and promotional support.
eBay has also conducted ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions with local organisation Access To Business to ensure the skills learnt by programme participants can be passed on to even more retailers in the local area.
“This clearly shows that the doom and gloom rhetoric surrounding UK high streets does not have to be a story that continues. The shift towards increased online spending is an opportunity for businesses to complement their physical store with online revenue, as well as an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs starting out.
I am immensely proud of this programme, the people who have delivered it and, most importantly, the businesses who have been part of it. They say the proof is in the pudding, and these results clearly demonstrate that online and high street retail can survive and indeed thrive together.”
– Rob Hattrell, VP eBay UK
With the 12 month programme having been completed, the question now is what will eBay do with their learnings? Will they pick another UK city to kickstart trading, continue their partnership with the City of Wolverhampton, or use the experience to create a new “eBay University” type programme or training course for more small businesses to use.
One thing is certain, the 60 odd businesses involved in Wolverhampton’s Retail Revival programme benefited enormously from in-person expertise and training. That’s hard to replicate at scale, even though part of the programme was ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions with local organisation Access To Business to ensure the skills learnt by programme participants can be passed on to even more retailers in the local area. Watch this space to see what eBay’s next move will be.