Tue 20th May 2014
Exporting in the Digital Age
Export is now well-established as being one of the key drivers for sustainable economic growth in Northern Ireland and programmes like Danske Bank Export First are making great strides in helping indigenous firms achieve their full growth potential through export.
This year the programme has a strong focus on helping smaller companies in particular to develop the knowledge and capability to take advantage of the many opportunities across the globe. For some of these firms exporting may require some sort of presence overseas, but the opportunities to export successfully from Northern Ireland through e-commerce are also vast.
A company’s website essentially acts as its shop window to the rest of the world and online shopping or e-commerce platforms are among the most effective routes to new markets. UK Trade and Investment estimates that UK cross-border internet retail sales will be worth £28 billion by 2020, so it is no wonder that businesses are bidding for their bite of this huge market by responding fast to digital opportunities.
Encouragingly, in Northern Ireland we are seeing more and more local SMEs going online to sell their products overseas. This is something which we are very keen to support – both at Danske Bank and through the Danske Bank Export First programme in partnership with the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
There are many benefits to exporting through e-commerce – not least the cost savings, particularly for small businesses and startups. Accessibility to a global audience and speed, too, come with going online to export, enabling quick, direct access between Northern Ireland firms and buyers in foreign markets.
One example of a country which is experiencing rapid growth in e-commerce is China, with the Chinese consumer increasing turning to online outlets to purchase high-quality goods, and UK brands are appearing high up on their shopping list. In fact, Alibaba – China’s largest e-commerce platform – recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UK, bringing the profile of UK companies to the fore among its 500 million registered users.
The UK’s popularity in the e-commerce market extends beyond China too though – also ranking favourably in key markets such as Germany, the United States and Australia – with the most in-demand products including clothes, shoes and accessories. The rise in next-day international delivery has removed some of the geographical and time limitations that could previously have prevented Northern Ireland companies in certain sectors from doing businesses with jurisdictions like these.
At Danske Bank we are embracing the global shift in consumer behaviour and, in partnership with NI Chamber through Danske Bank Export First, we are committed to doing everything we can to support Northern Ireland firms in online exports. Together, we want to equip our indigenous firms with the knowledge and skills to seize opportunities for growth through digital channels.