Reports released this week by the British Business Bank reveal that 46 per cent of UK SMEs are expected to grow in the next 12 months. The most concerning statistic for the Government was that 33 per cent of SMEs were unaware that they could access funding through Government and Local Authority grants showcasing a lack of publication for the scheme.
The two most common reasons the SME owners questioned were looking for financing was for the purchase of fixed assets and to support cash flow.
Vince Cable, Business Secretary, believes the findings will give the Government a clear starting point in an attempt to improve business awareness of the various alternative finance opportunities available.
“This new research – the first of its kind by British Business Bank – is a useful benchmark for measuring the challenges ahead in making British businesses aware of the various alternative finance options available in the market.”
Furthermore, an avenue not yet harnessed by many retailers looking to expand in 2015 is the use of online shopping opportunities with sites such as Amazon and Ebay.
The study found that 63 per cent of UK SME online retailers are planning to increase the number of channels they trade through in 2015 to grow sales. One in four (24 per cent) e-retailers plan to start using online marketplaces to increase sales. A further 21 per cent plan to open a shop and one in six (16 per cent) are planning to take out space in a store to sell their goods
Increasing the range of products will be the top initiative for increasing customer satisfaction in 2015. Four in ten said they will be improving the range of delivery options in 2015, which compares to 21 per cent in 2014. Pricing more competitively fell to third in the rankings from last year’s second place. Personalizing’ interactions with customers will dominate investment in 2015 for more than half, the study found, while click and collect will also be a priority. Of those questioned, a third of retailers already offered click and collect for products purchased from their own website, while almost a quarter planned to add this in 2015.
2015 looks to be a positive year for SME’s looking to expand their businesses, whether by utilising their online presence and User Experience, or just ensuring that their basic business practices are in order, allowing them to maximise opportunities this year.