SME Sector Remains Strong in Q4 2010

The quarterly online sales survey conducted by ecommerce specialist Actinic reports a 12% increase in revenue in the three months to 31 December 2010 when compared to the same quarter in 2009. The Q4 2010 Actinic survey of small and medium businesses selling online also shows that the average number of orders processed by each merchant increased 10% when compared to Q4 2009. Christmas had a positive impact on the average number of orders processed with 13% more in the fourth quarter when compared to Q3 2010.

In addition respondents reported their average shopping cart value increased slightly during the period from 67.30 in the fourth quarter 2009 to 68.90 in the same period in 2010.

E-tailers reported that the early snow placed extra pressures on their customer service operations as people were anxious about their orders arriving in time for Christmas.

Richard Smart, managing director, Smart Packaging, reports that, "Although our customer service queries increased over 400% due to the unprecedented weather conditions, we still managed to increase our sales by 19%. We found that by working very closely with our main carriers we were able to offer a dedicated Weather Help page on the site which indicated the 'troubled' postcodes which then helped customers when ordering."

Ben Biscoe, managing director of Fairyglass, comments that, "While the snow caused a few problems with deliveries, it also meant that customers did not venture out to shop. As a result we had our best online sales ever this Christmas, up around 15% on last year."

Nick Kington, managing director at Actinic, comments, "Despite the snow and ice, SMEs selling online have continued to report healthy increases in both the number of orders processed, and most importantly the revenues achieved in the run up to the crucial Christmas trading period. This survey highlights that more consumers have opted for the convenience of online shopping this Christmas, although businesses have had to work extra hard to overcome the customer service difficulties created by the weather conditions."

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