Posted: Wed 13th Mar 2013
One of the roles of our newly launched Enterprise Nation Club is to represent the views of members to government - to take your soundings on business conditions and relay this to policy executives, writes Emma (left). This is why we launched our Quarterly Enterprise Survey (you could win an iPad Mini if you enter!) and it's why I attended a breakfast yesterday morning for a Cabinet Office working group on the topic of encouraging ecommerce within the EU.
Chaired by Lord Young, Enterprise Adviser to the Prime Minister, the working group has been set up to:
identify any barriers faced by business when selling online in the EU
suggest ways to bring these barriers down.
There were 19 attendees from companies large and small; ASOS, M&S, B&Q, eBay, Elance and Amazon sat alongside Wiggle and Labels4Kids. The one hour discussion raised the following points:
The volume of exports from the UK is increasing; of 1.2 billion parcels sent every year, said IMRG, 16 per cent are going overseas and this amount is rising each year.
British companies tend to look beyond the EU when exporting; to Australia, the USA and fast-growing territories in Latin America and India.
So what's holding us back?
The key barriers were identified as:
"Postal operators across Europe don't speak to each other," claimed Doug McCallum of eBay, so this presents challenges when trying to ship and track parcels across Europe.
With 60-70 per cent of their trade being overseas, the CEO of Wiggle knows a thing or two about how to go global. In his view, the regulatory situation is a challenge, with different distance selling regulations in different countries, issues of how data protection is treated and getting certified as a local store.
Other points raised included finding a local bank, ensuring payment is available in form that suits local culture, having localised websites and social media accounts, dealing in different languages, and registering for VAT in several territories.
Despite these barriers, it was refreshing to hear all participants comment on strong customer demand, with orders increasingly made via mobile devices. The growing appetite for British goods is being serviced and the job of this working group is to make the process for online sellers as smooth as possible when it comes to getting goods to customers who want them. "We are shopkeepers to the world," concluded Humphrey Cobbold of Wiggle. The task in hand is to keep it that way!
If you have a view to share, please leave your comment here or email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org The working group is set to file recommendations by 25th June 2013 so swift action can be taken. Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation and campaigns vigiorously on behalf of small enterprises in the UK. Photo Credit: Jeff Nelson. via Compfight cc