A large majority of online businesses in the UK are confident about the future and more than three-quarters are planning to expand their businesses during 2009, according to eBay’s new Online Business Index.
The Index shines a light on an increasingly successful part of the British economy, compiled from data and survey responses from hundreds of small and medium-sized online retail businesses, collectively turning over an estimated £785 million in 2008 alone. The Index reveals that:
- 64% of online businesses feel confident about theimmediate business outlook, according to survey findings, with only 15% expressing pessimism.
- Revenue increased even faster in 2008 than it did a year previously, and growth in the last quarter of 2008 stood at an average of 28.6%, up from 23.4% in the last quarter of 2007.
- 78% plan to expand or diversify their businesses according to the survey.
- More than half of those surveyed – 54% – expect rising sales, with a further 30% expecting sales to remain stable.
- Exports by online businesses are surging, with eBay data demonstrating a 128% increase in the last year alone.
On average, the online businesses covered by the survey obtain 56% of their revenue through eBay, 22% through other sites and 23% through bricks-and-mortar outlets. The businesses included in the Index generated an estimated turnover of £785 million in 2008 – more than half of it generated online.
“The internet has become a powerful tool for businesses to strengthen themselves during the economic downturn,” said David Dinsdale, Director at businesslink.gov.uk. “A website is a simple and cost effective way for businesses to reach a wider market. It is excellent news that so many online businesses are feeling confident in the current economic climate. However, for businesses with concerns, Business Link offers a wealth of guidance, support and interactive tools to enable them to develop and maintain a successful online business.”
One online businessman who is confident about the future is Liverpool-based Mark Radcliffe, who sells electronic accessories through the internet. In 2008 alone he turned over £5 million and employs 22 full-time staff, with plans to hire more this year.
Radcliffe added,“In just three years, I’ve established a business that sells 40,000 items a month – a business that continues to grow, despite the tough trading environment we’re seeing. Key to my success has been flexibility, both in terms of stock and pricing and of course, by offering great customer service. There can be no greater expression of the confidence I have than my plans this year to increase my workforce and increase the size of my warehouse.”
The Online Business Index was compiled from the sales data of eBay’s top 1,000 business sellers in the UK, and survey responses from 410 of the top 2,000 UK business sellers on the site.