Online marketplace eBay has announced it has entered a 12-month partnership with the city of Wolverhampton to help small retailers get online, grow the local economy and demonstrate that online and high street retail can coexist.
The partnership will see experts from the online marketplace stationed in the city to provide support to small retailers who want to start up or expand their online presence.
The announcement comes as new research commissioned by eBay and conducted by YouGov and Development Economics showed that 25% of small retailers did not have an online presence aimed at generating sales. Some 71% said they had no plans to close this ‘digital gap’ in the future.
The research suggested that if these businesses were to close the ‘digital gap’, they could benefit from as much as £4.1bn in extra sales revenue each year. This equates to £19,250 in additional annual revenue per individual business currently without an online presence.
The online retail platform will work with research consultancy Development Economics to evaluate the partnership as it progresses and create a blueprint that can be adopted by other UK towns to bolster their retail businesses.
Rob Hattrell, vice president of eBay in the UK said: “We know that customer shopping behaviour is changing – but online should play an important part in helping businesses in our local communities to thrive. I’ve seen that Wolverhampton businesses have the creativity matched with the entrepreneurial skill to create products needed and wanted all over the world – and eBay will help them to sell in the way they want to online.
“We should be very proud of the incredible strength of the small businesses of the UK and must seek to empower them more.”
City of Wolverhampton council leader, councillor Roger Lawrence, added: “I’m delighted a global brand like eBay has chosen to work with us on an initiative which is the first of its kind in the UK. We value our small retailers that bring so much character to our city centre.
“eBay will provide valuable support to city retailers in the wake of a challenging national retail climate affected by changes in consumer behaviour and the economy. It is an exciting programme that will help businesses with their digital marketing and sales skills, giving them a solid platform for sustainable growth.”