Promising export success for SMEs

Online businesses are defying the economic downturn and flying the flag for Britain on the international stage, finds research.

According to the e-business benchmark report from Sage Pay, which surveys more than 1,000 internet businesses, respondents report an average 49 per cent growth in online sales over the past year.

The research also shows more than half (57 per cent) of e-businesses are taking advantage of the weak pound and relative maturity of the UK e-commerce market by expanding into international territories.

While European countries, including France, Germany and Spain remain the most popular destinations for business expansion, Britain’s e-businesses are finding success across the world, notably in China, where nearly one in five respondents say they now have a presence.

Simon Black, managing director of Sage Pay says, ‘As the government talks about rebalancing the UK economy, it could do a lot worse than look at the vibrancy and dynamism of the e-commerce sector. Competition is healthy, yet fierce and as our report shows, e-tailers are rising to the challenge by embracing new technologies, expanding into new markets and innovating with new channels to entice and excite customers.’

The use of social media by e-businesses has risen over the past year, with 76 per cent of the e-businesses surveyed now using Twitter to communicate with customers, double the number using the channel in 2010.

Some 76 per cent of online companies now have their own Facebook page, an 18 per cent leap from last year’s report which found 58 per cent of top performing sites using Facebook.

While smartphone use has exploded in 2011, adoption of mobile technologies remains in its infancy among e-businesses, particularly in terms of App development. Three in ten claim a mobile app is part of their long-term plans, just 5 per cent of respondents have already developed an App for their business, with 27 per cent thinking having an App would not be relevant to their business.

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