Why Britain’s SMEs are turning to trading alternatives
Economic conditions continue to prove challenging for the country’s small businesses with any fluctuations in investment, inflation or confidence hitting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the hardest. It’s clear that businesses have had to become savvier in how they operate, generate revenue and protect the bottom line. That’s why many of the UK’s SMEs are turning to innovative trading alternatives as they look to boost revenue.
In particular online trading marketplaces, such as my company, are enjoying a boost by enabling businesses to trade and market products and services directly to other companies. The beauty of online marketplaces is the diversity of their members in terms of business size, location, sector and products. It can open up new markets and customer bases to businesses that have been trading for weeks or for decades and are looking to do something different.
For example, a restauranteur may be searching for a party supply company to work with for the upcoming busy festive season. Yet due to long working hours, he or she might not have the time to source a competitive quote or even find a company at all. Through an online marketplace, they could put a notice out about their requirements or easily search for providers across the country, not just locally, to help find a solution in a quick and cost-effective manner.
Feedback shows that one of the biggest drivers behind online marketplace sign-ups is that businesses hope to increase exposure to and open up new geographic markets. In these challenging times, finding those new markets can make all the difference to a company’s bottom line.
On the whole, our member businesses are local companies who trade within a 30 – 50 mile radius of their base and lack the resources and regional market knowledge to trade further afield. This has been intensified by the government withdrawal of business support, which was keenly felt both by us as a new business and by our members. Previous business support bodies and organisations, such as the BusinessLinks service and website were hugely valuable, providing both established SMEs and start-ups with crucial information about how to run a business.
The government has launched its business.gov.uk website but this lacks the regional focus of its predecessor. With these effects, especially felt by smaller businesses, it can often be a lonely place when running or setting up a business, and getting relevant information and support is essential. Whether it’s finding out more about regulations in your area or the logistics of doing business 200 miles away, SMEs need substantial and informed support.
With SMEs operating on such tight margins in terms of time and budgets, online marketplaces can offer a real solution to any sourcing or trading requirements. It can also open up brand new markets that might never have been considered before. One of our members, bespoke travel company Handpicked Holidays, were contacted by another member about a wedding fair at which they decided to exhibit. It ended up being really successful for them, in terms of sales and leads and what’s more, they hadn’t really considered the weddings and honeymoon sector before, so through online marketplaces they have been able to explore whole new markets.
It’s clear to us that SMEs can thrive when working in a genuinely active and supportive business community, and those that actively look at exploring alternative revenue streams can really reap the rewards.
For more information about Nick Moore’s company We Trade It visit www.wetradeit.comTagged in: business, economy, online marketing, recession, SMEs
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter