E-Commerce Week Launched to Get 70,000 More UK Businesses Selling Online

February 28, 2024

The UK will be celebrating its very first E-Commerce Week next month, launched with the aim of encouraging 70,000 more small British businesses to sell their goods and services digitally around the world.

E-Commerce Week will be held from 18th to 24th March and will be encouraging both current small business owners and budding entrepreneurs to utilise e-commerce for growth or get their new business venture off the ground.

E-Commerce Week is being supported by the UK’s E-Commerce Trade Commission. The Commission, which launched in June last year and will run until June 2025, aims to reach 70,000 small British businesses in that time, encouraging and supporting them to explore opportunities to trade and export online.

The Commission has been convened by the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) and will advise the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). It includes some of the world’s largest ecommerce platforms – including Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Google and Shopify. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Association of International Courier & Express Services (AICES) are also members.

In the past year, the UK has signed three new Free Trade Agreements since leaving the EU, allowing tariff-free trading with countries such as Mexico, Japan and South Korea. With further agreements in discussion with India, there are a multitude of new markets for UK businesses to tap into. However, despite the wealth of new opportunities, small businesses in the UK are still facing barriers to exporting their goods and services around the world such as customs, logistics and timings.

E-Commerce Week also comes as a potentially worrying cliff edge for companies using e-commerce approaches. A longstanding moratorium on customs charges for cross-border digital trade is set to expire at the end of March unless policymakers can agree an extension at MC13, the World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Trade Conference, taking place at the end of this month. There is currently no consensus on extending it, and the IOE&IT is urging policymakers to find common ground and avoid a sudden increase in costs for businesses trading digitally from April onwards.

Put the ease into e-commerce

E-Commerce Week is looking to tackle these barriers and show current business owners and up-and-coming entrepreneurs the easy path to exporting via e-commerce. E-Commerce Week will do this with three key pillars to ‘put the ease into e-commerce’:

  1. Entrepreneur: It all starts with an idea. The UK is brimming with entrepreneurs with ideas for goods and services which can be sold all around the world.
  2. Education: However, the practical elements of bringing your business idea to life and selling online around the world can be tough. E-Commerce Week will provide both current business owners and the next generation of entrepreneurs all the tools they need to learn about how to start selling globally via e-commerce.
  3. Export: The final goal. SMEs in the UK can scale their business for success and sell to a global marketplace.

Current and budding business owners can learn all they need to start selling globally via e-commerce on the E-Commerce Week website, which will house all practical information on exporting as well as inspiration from current small business owners who have successfully grown their businesses with global digital sales.

Several events and webinars will also be taking place throughout the week that businesses can get involved with. These will be exploring topics such as the social value of e-commerce as well as tips and tricks on international e-commerce trading, more details of which will be revealed soon.

Marco Forgione, Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade and Chair of the E-Commerce Trade Commission, comments:

“We are delighted to be launching the UK’s inaugural E-Commerce Week. We are a nation full of entrepreneurial spirit, and all the evidence shows that businesses which export are stronger, more profitable and more sustainable. Whether you’re a current business owner or have an idea for a business that you’re looking to bring to life, exporting via e-commerce should be a part of your business planning for success.

The E-Commerce Trade Commission brings together key marketplaces and organisations united in our ambition to help UK businesses benefit from international trade. We know that exporting for a small business can seem daunting, but education is key – which is where E-Commerce Week comes in.

We’re here to hold every business owner’s hand through every step of the process – from finding out which countries have a strong desire for your product, to how to deal with customs, to finding the best value logistics for your business. No matter what concerns or questions you may have, we’re here to help. This is your opportunity to find out just how far you can take your businesses.”