The high street may be in the doldrums but internet export sales are on the up. And eBay sellers are at the head of this unprecendented boom – all because of the weak pound.
In January 2009 alone, 244,000 UK-based eBay sellers generated £57m worth of export sales (a year on year increase of 49 per cent) selling 2.4 million items.
Interestingly, a larger proportion of these revenues is now coming from export sales. EBay sellers reported a ten per cent increase in purchase value from foreign buyers in January, with the number of items purchased up by 13 per cent.
“In these tough times, businesses are looking to how they can seize every opportunity available to them,” said Mark Lewis, country manager for eBay in the UK. "EBay’s online marketplace allows businesses to be incredibly flexible and make fast, opportunistic adjustments to everything from product range, to price, to fulfilment."
Additionally, the weak pound has opened up new and exciting opportunities for sellers to grow their businesses. One such businessman who has seen a significant growth from export sales is eBay seller John Pemberton.
Pemberton gave up a high-powered job as a marketing director in 2004 to set up his own fulltime eBay company selling men’s designer clothing. He is now the number one seller of men’s suits on eBay and the number three seller of Doc Martens, with an annual turnover of £250,000 and over 50,000 visits to his shop each month.
Now a seasoned eBay seller, Pemberton has seen his European export sales grow by 50 per cent since this time last year. “In the last three months alone, export sales have accounted for almost 40 per cent of my turnover, with 25 per cent of all of my sales coming from Europe," he says. "While the weak pound isn’t great for the UK economy it’s clearly offering a great opportunity for SMEs in what is an extremely tough economic climate. Shopkeepers rely on the footfall walking by their shop, but on the web you are a shop window to the world."
Top 10 UK export markets for January
1) US – £9.5m
2) Germany – £6m
3) France – £5.4m
4) Ireland – £5.3m
5) Italy – £4.3m
6) Netherlands – £2.8m
7) Spain – £2.7m
8) Austria – £2.1m
9) Belgium – £1.4m
10) Switzerland – £1.4m
Top 5 UK export items for December 2008 – February 2009
1) Mobile phones – £10.9m
2) Wristwatches – £4.3m
3) Menswear and womenswear – £5.5m
4) Laptops – £2.5m
5) Digital cameras – £2.2m