The majority (72%) of Irish SMEs exporting to other countries have increased their revenues with the use of online tools to sell internationally. More than half of exporting SMEs (55%) say that over 75% of their international sales depend on online tools, according to data from the Future of Business International Trade Survey conducted by Facebook, OECD and the World Bank.

The ‘Future of Business’ survey, provides insight into the attitudes of nearly 50,000 global SMEs and the economic environment in which they operate.

Key findings for Ireland:

Businesses that trade internationally are more confident in the current state of their business, and are also more likely to increase jobs:

– 57% of traders and 53% of non-traders are positive about their current business state.
– 28% of traders and 16% of non-traders report having hired employees in the last 6 months.
– 37% of traders and 28% of non-traders anticipate hiring employees in the next 6 months.

For exporting SMEs, international trade is at the core of their business models and success. Among this group, 4 in – 10 (43%) report that more than 25% of their revenue comes from international trade.

Globally, SMEs attribute growth in revenue, resources, and employee numbers to their use of online tools to trade internationally. Among this:

– 28% of SMEs say online tools have allowed them to increase their employees;
– 38% have been able to increase their investment in equipment, and;
– 42% of SMEs have expanded their business.
– 58% agree that online tools for selling internationally has increased their revenue.

The Future of Business survey notes that Ireland is number three among the top 10 countries where SMEs report the largest effects of online tools for selling internationally on revenue.

Ciaran Quilty, Vice President of SMEs for the EMEA at Facebook commented on Irish SMEs reliance on online tools to meet these challenges, “As small businesses seek to scale globally, the 2017 Future of Business Survey reveals the integral role that online and mobile tools play in their ability to trade across borders. Businesses using digital tools and trading internationally are more confident, growing faster and increasing jobs.

“With over 55 million people in the world connected to a business in Ireland on Facebook, we want to continue our efforts to help Irish businesses harness digital and mobile tools to take full advantage of the economic opportunity of international trade.”

However, international trade is not without its challenges. Globally, the Future of Business Survey reports that ‘securing business partners’ is the biggest challenge to those trading internationally (63%). The other main export barriers included ‘market access limitations’ (41%), ‘different regulations in other countries’ (38%) and ‘customs regulations’ (35%).

The Future of Business survey began in February 2016 with 22 countries. Today it reaches 42, whose economies represent 40% of the world population and 73% of global GDP. So far, over 218,000 business page owners on Facebook have participated in the survey.

The full report is available from the link below:

Future of Business Survey – Trade report

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