PayPal reveals online exports boom driven by British SMEs

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New transaction data from PayPal reveals how small and medium-sized businesses benefitted most from the record lows of the pound last year.

While SMEs in the UK saw their international PayPal sales rise 10% year-on-year from January to June 2016, the rate of growth trebled to 34% year-on-year from July to December.

For British businesses as a whole, there was an uplift in PayPal sales to online shoppers visiting from overseas, but the biggest impact was seen on small and medium-sized businesses.

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The amount international shoppers spent with UK SMEs rose 13% per transaction in the last six months of 2016.

According to PayPal, online SMEs were well equipped to navigate the unpredictable market conditions following the EU referendum result.

Mark Brant, managing director at PayPal UK, explains: “When the pound dropped and the buying power of international shoppers increased, we expected to see a surge in online exports. Of course lower prices played a major part in boosting international sales, but there were many other contributing factors. The small businesses that were best placed to benefit from the influx of international shoppers were the ones who had already adapted their online stores – for example by letting customers browse in their own language, and pay in their own currency.”

PayPal’s data shows that tens of thousands of UK SMEs started to sell online to a new country between July and December 2016. The top 5 online export markets for British SMEs during that period were:

  1. US
  2. Germany
  3. Australia
  4. France
  5. Italy

Customers from all five of the top markets are typically attracted to new and exclusive products that are only available from the UK. Fashion and sports were the two categories of online business that experienced the highest growth. Overall, there was a 49% year-on-year increase in fashion and sports goods sold to international shoppers.

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