Friday, March 1, 2013

Live Q&A: Online retail for small businesses

Join our live chat at 1pm on Thursday for expert tips on internet selling for small businesses
Sign up here for details of upcoming live Q&As

Whether I'm looking to replace a winter coat which is falling apart, buy that book I've been meaning to read for months, or do a standard weekly food shop, Google is my first port of call. The fact that you type in what you want and it can be on its way to you within minutes is something which most of us take for granted.

In fact, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UK is the biggest online shopping nation in the developed world, as 60% of us resort to the internet when there's something we need to buy.

With this consumer trend on the rise, it's no surprise that 2013 is predicted to bring in even higher sales for online retailers. But despite optimistic forecasts, the online shopping market is becoming more and more competitive, so how can your small business stand out from the crowd?

Whether you trade exclusively online or this is a way of driving customers into your store, there are a number of things to consider, from making sure your website can take payments securely, to having a good delivery method, optimising your design and making the most of your resources.

To advise on all these aspects of online retail, we've compiled a panel of experts on answer all of your questions and share their tips and expertise. Join us on Thursday 28 February between 1pm and 3pm for a live Q&A and post your question in the comments section below.

Here is this week's panel:

Phil Dorrell is the director of Retail Remedy, a retail consultancy which advises SMEs in the industry on how to grow their business by increasing sales.

Jon Buchan is the CEO of Render Positive, a digital marketing agency. He is also an entrepreneur, having started his own business at age 17.

Martin Woods is SEO manager at Blueclaw, an ecommerce site development agency, which advises SMEs on SEO (search engine optimisation), PPC (pay per click) marketing and social media.

Aaron Gilboe is projects director at Last Exit, a digital design agency. Aaron has worked with a number of big retailers to help them increase online sales.

Neil Murray is the founder of, a company which provides a freelance sales agent to startups and SMEs. Neil has experience in selling and marketing new products.

Chris Barling is the founder of SellerDeck, an e-commerce software provider. He is also the author of three books about online trading for SMEs.

Nish Kukadia is the co-founder of the designer flash sale website SecretSales. Nish set up the website six years ago, and has grown the business exponentially since then.

Alan Beesley is the director of Thrive Vitamins, an SME currently trading online. Alan had 20 years' retail experience in sales and consultancy before starting his business last year.

David Roebuck is the sales director at Direct Blinds, a small family business founded more than 40 years ago which now sells its products exclusively online.

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