Over half of region's businesses expected to invest in eCommerce capabilities

Some 56 per cent of North West businesses are expected to invest in their eCommerce capabilities over the next 12 months.

That's according to a recent survey by Digitl – the marketplace and web design agency headed up by Oldham-based entrepreneur Darren Ratcliffe (pictured).

Digitl approached 250 businesses to better understand how firms have used eCommerce to weather the pandemic and how their use of it may change as things begin to get back to normal. Contributors included companies primarily operating in the retail, property, tech and professional service sectors.

Overall, 78 per cent of all respondents had increased their use of eCommerce since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Fifty-five per cent of retailers had used external marketplaces for the first time to drive sales, with over 80 per cent of them choosing Amazon – mainly because of its profile and reach. While 75 per cent confirmed that the decision to use an external marketplace had played a considerable factor in helping them survive 2020.

Forty-eight per cent of all service-based businesses had also ramped up their ability to provide online transactions with law and accountancy firms leading the way.

In terms of business confidence, 88 per cent of firms believed that they would see growth in 2021, with most citing average upturns of around 15-25 per cent. However, there is still caution with an effective vaccine rollout and the easing of lockdown restrictions by early Spring being key factors.

Darren Ratcliffe, founder of Digitl, said: "2020 was an unprecedented year, and despite Primark announcing that it won’t be starting online sales despite losing £100m a month, this survey shows that many North West businesses thought on their feet, adapted and realised why investing in eCommerce. 

"Whether that’s product or service related – is key if they want to not just survive COVID but thrive after it. Now more than ever, giving customers the ability to access the products you offer in as simple a way as possible needs to be central to every business’ strategy." 

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