- eBay’s Retail Revival partnership reaches its 6 month mark, with participating businesses surpassing £2 million in sales
- participants on the programme have seen average year-on-year sales growth of 36%
- nearly half of the businesses on the programme (46%) have expanded or plan to expand their business premises since enrolling, while four in ten (42%) have hired or plan to hire additional staff
- other research also reveals West Midlands business owners are the most optimistic in the UK about their prospects for the year ahead.
The 64 retailers taking part have experienced an average growth of 36% in year on year revenue since joining the scheme in 2018.
Positive local impact
Retail Revival is already demonstrating its positive impact on the local economy, with a survey of participants showing that 46% of participants are either expanding or planning to expand their physical presence, while 42% have hired or plan to hire additional staff.
Optimism for the year ahead has also increased dramatically among participants, with 100% of businesses on the Retail Revival programme saying they’re feeling positive about their prospects – up from 35% when the programme was first announced.
This echoes research conducted by Populus on behalf of eBay for its Small Business Barometer, which shows that 64% of small business owners in the West Midlands felt optimistic about the year ahead – far ahead of the national average of 43%.
Fig 1: % of small business owners feeling optimistic about their prospects for the next 12 months
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Mind the digital gap
eBay’s partnership with the City of Wolverhampton was announced in September 2018 after research conducted by Development Economics revealed that a quarter (25%) of small retailers across the UK do not have an online presence aimed at generating sales – defined as a website, social media channels or a presence on an online marketplace.
Worryingly, nearly three quarters (71%) said they had no plans to close this ‘digital gap’ in the future. The research showed that were these businesses to close the ‘digital gap’, they could benefit from as much as £4.1 billion in additional sales revenue each year, equating to £19,250 in additional annual revenue for each individual business without an online presence. The Retail Revival partnership will run until at least September 2019.
Retail Revival participants are benefitting from 1 on 1 support to create personalised eBay shops, comprehensive training programme that covers eBay selling basics, as well as digital skills such as Search Engine Optimisation and promotional support.
The benefits of the programme aren’t limited to financial gain. Mike Dixon, co-founder of pet supplies store, Hugglepets, who joined the programme with both a physical and online store running, said: “Retail Revival has helped us to significantly grow our business so that we’re able to do more of the things we want to do. It’s freed up our time and given us greater financial stability – our revenue was up 22% year on year last month – so that we’re able to give back to the local community.
“We’ve recently launched a project called ‘Tea with a Twist’, where we invite people from the local retirement home to come in for a cuppa, meet the animals, and have a chat. We’re also crowdfunding to build a sensory classroom and aquarium for children with learning difficulties, so that we can teach them about aquatics and plastic pollution in the ocean and help improve their mental wellbeing. None of this would have been possible without eBay – they’ve helped to bring together the local community in more ways than one.”
Rob Hattrell, Vice President of eBay in the UK, said: “The past few years have been tough for UK retail, but it’s too simplistic to say that online shopping comes at the detriment of the high street. Our partnership with entrepreneurs in Wolverhampton shows what a combination of online and physical retail can achieve.
“It’s exciting to see how far these businesses have come in just 6 months, with online sales leading to new jobs in some cases - and we’re only halfway. The businesses on the programme should be extremely proud of themselves and we are excited to be helping them protect and grow their businesses.”
City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Roger Lawrence, said: “The impact the Retail Revival scheme is making on small retailers in our city after just 6 months is truly remarkable. We very much value the presence of these small businesses and the creative local people behind them.
“It is tremendous news that almost half of the participants on this programme have either expanded or are planning to. I am delighted we were able to attract a global brand like eBay to the city – it has helped these businesses with their digital marketing and sales skills, giving them a solid platform for sustainable growth.”