For small businesses, social media and e-commerce capabilities have been invaluable tools in helping to grow sales. In fact, it was Beb and Ooo’s presence on Instagram that was responsible for the business’s first ever international order.
Two local female entrepreneurs, who have taken advantage of social media and the support of Business West’s digital and international trade services, are Gloucestershire-based Beth Hill and Lucy Gatt of Beb and Ooo (bebandooo.co.uk) – a children’s clothing range.
Beth and Lucy’s business was inspired by their quest for bright, colourful clothes for their young children. They launched in 2016, and just 18 months on, they are thriving and have recently secured their first international order.
Beth said: “Once our two boys left the tiny baby stage, we found that clothes came in a pretty limited palette, mainly blue, grey and green. And the selection for girls seemed equally restrictive, with lots of pinks and pastels.
“The only place we could find the kind of clothes that we liked were from online retailers, many of which were in Scandinavia. I’ve always enjoyed making clothes and began coming up with my own designs using fabric sourced online.
“We received so many compliments that Lucy and I began to think that maybe we had the basis for a business.
“We were keen to work together and to find a project that worked around our families, and with my experience in textiles and Lucy’s background in illustration and graphics, we were confident we had the skills to give it a go.”
Beb & Ooo were recently approached by an online retailer in Canada, Modern Rascals, which specialises in ethically made and gender neutral children’s clothing.
Fiona Parnell, international digital marketing adviser at Business West, said: “Social media and eCommerce is by far one of the most cost effective ways of reaching new customers both here in the UK market and abroad.
“The increasing sophistication of eCommerce platforms and the phenomenal growth of social media over the last few years mean that it is easier than ever to look well beyond your own doorstep for business.
“We are seeing smaller businesses take advantage of the opportunities on offer to sell products and services to overseas markets.
Research from FedEX says that over 63% of British SMEs are now exporting, boosted by the ability to reach out to new customers via social media and eCommerce capabilities – more than eight in ten SMEs that export generate revenue through these means.