While recently statistics showed that the economy has grown by 0.6% in the first quarter, it doesn’t mean the economy is quite out of the recession yet. However, there’s no reason for SMEs to be optimistic. If the economy continues to recover, this year could be a good one for small businesses.

Since the economic crash of 2008, things have been difficult for businesses – especially those trying to get their foot on the ladder. Employment rates in the UK are still low, but there’s hope for the struggling retail sector thanks to the advent of ecommerce.

Online to outdoors

A great number of retailers, both large and small, have been enjoying the benefits of selling products online. Long-established companies have racked up a great deal of sales by allowing customers to visit online shops, and the convenience it offers is always attractive to shoppers.

Thanks to the internet, many small businesses have been able to set up with comparative ease. The costs of buying and running a real brick and mortar shop are vast when compared to the ease of setting up a website and operating from a remote location. But now, it looks like there’s a growing trend of online shops taking residence in physical form on the high street – and that can only mean good things for the economy.

The benefits of brick

After enjoying success with online retail, setting up shops on the high-street was the next obvious step for the likes of Oak Furniture Land – which set up multiple shops a few years after opening an online store on eBay – and, more recently, ecigarettedirect.co.uk.

The electronic cigarette seller was so successful online, there was more than enough reason to set up a shop in Swansea.

ecigarette offline shop
The Smoker’s Angel, Swansea, South Wales, UK – photo credit: ecigarettedirect.co.uk

James Dunworth, co-founder of the company, said: “E-cigarettes are no longer a niche market – they are becoming more and more mainstream.

“Since we started trading in 2008, we have had orders from all over the UK, as well as providing e-cigarettes to the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada and much of Europe.

“We’ve even provided the Welsh National Opera with e-cigarettes for their production of Carmen, an opera set in a tobacco factory.

“However, customers have told us they want to be able to pop to a shop to get their electronic cigarette supplies, especially if they have forgotten to order refills.”

While online sales are accessible by all and are easy to conduct, giving the customers to come in store and try electric cigarettes out for themselves adds a friendly, human aspect to retail.

Taking a successful online business onto the street not only boosts brand awareness – it offers more jobs. While only a handful of people are needed to successfully conduct ecommerce, there’s a need for workers in store that not only helps out the local community, but gives an encouraging nudge to the economy.