Despite sluggish broadband speeds the UK continues to be a leader in e-commerce in the European Union, with 20% of all business revenue generated online in 2013 – the third highest percentage of all member states.
Ireland topped the rankings with over 50% of revenue originating online, primarily due to the large number of online companies that use Ireland as a corporate base to take advantage of the country’s low tax rates. Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Google all use Irish companies to transact with the wider EU.
The average for online revenues across the entire EU was 15%, with Greece finishing bottom of the list with 2%.
Small businesses, especially those with between 10 and 49 employees, saw the largest growth in online revenues between 2012 and 2013, up 1%. Larger companies of 50+ employees saw their online revenues flatten from 2012 onward.
Although the UK is performing well from an economic perspective, our technical infrastructure is less than exemplary. Of the 28 member states in the report, business broadband in the UK ranks 22nd, with almost 40% of UK companies stuck with broadband below 10Mbps. Only 7.5% of UK businesses have broadband speeds exceeding 100Mbps, compared to 25% of businesses in Denmark. The UK also has a higher than average proportion of businesses with no broadband connectivity whatsoever. More than 13% of UK businesses have no access to broadband internet, compared to the EU average of 8.5%
The EU online sales figures included in the data come at a particularly important point for cross-border digital sales in Europe with the imminent introduction of new EU VAT laws and the furore surrounding HMRC’s VAT MOSS solution. The statistics show that on average 45% of businesses are conducting cross-border digital sales within the EU – all of which could be caught by the incoming VAT reporting regime. In the UK 40% of businesses are selling digitally to other member states.
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