British firms are in danger of missing out on boom in online sales

The gap between how much we spend online with smaller British firms and larger companies is growing dramatically, small business support group Enterprise Nation has claimed.

Thousands of Britain’s smallest firms are in danger of missing out on the boom in online sales as the UK’s e-commerce habit continues to explode, a campaign claims.

Despite a dramatic increase in the number of consumers buying online in the UK, Britain’s smallest firms – those with nine or fewer employees – are not feeling the benefit, says small business support group Enterprise Nation.

According to the Office for National Statistics, online sales increased 21 per cent in December 2016 alone – sky rocketing Britain’s e-commerce economy to £130 billion per annum.

And yet the ONS’ E-commerce and ICT Activity Report suggests just 9.7 per cent of all sales from UK-based micro firms were e-commerce transactions, compared with almost 56 per cent of sales from firms with 1,000 or more employees.

Enterprise Nation, says smaller firms need urgent help and is set to launch The Go and Grow Online campaign, in conjunction with Microsoft, Curry’s PC World Business and Verisign on Wednesday/October 11.

The nationwide campaign is set to send a cohort of digital trainers to host a series of events across the UK in a bid to reach those that need the help most.

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, says, ‘Big firms have the resources to invest in the latest digital e-commerce and m-commerce functionality, SEO, marketing, and everything in between. Smaller firms have been slower on the uptake over the years, and seem to have less appetite for it. They are busy simply running the business and don’t always see the benefits that digital can deliver.

‘And yet the digital world is an area that they absolutely can compete with larger firms on. Our trainers will be the people who will deliver the know-how where it’s needed and provide as much of the on-the-ground assistance as these businesses need.’

Jim O’Hagan, B2B director for Currys PC World Business, adds, ‘With everything from sales and staffing, to accounting and costs to worry about, it’s no wonder that many small businesses are missing a trick when it comes to realising their potential online. That’s why we’ve partnered with Enterprise Nation on their Go and Grow Online campaign, to equip SMEs with the skills they need to get set up, secure and selling on the web.

‘UK consumers spend more online per household than consumers in any other country, meaning the opportunity is ripe for small businesses looking to expand online.’

Over the course of 12 months, the campaign will reach 10,000 businesses with face-to-face practical training, essential resources, and connections to fellow business owners.

Digital expert and trainer Jamie Hewitt, who runs digital agency RocketshipWP in Crouch End, London, says, ‘For many high street businesses, it’s often the fear of the unknown; for others it’s the fear of overload.

‘If they have just opened a cafe or a shop for example, the costs involved are so high, they will just be focused on getting people through the door and moving online and using social tools will be just another task on a long to-do list. Something has got to give.

‘The reality is that for everyone, being visible online is an important validation that every business needs as a minimum.’