5 questions regarding Scottish independence and ecommerce
I shall start by disclosing my position: I don’t want Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom. I don’t believe that an independent Scotland is economically viable and anyway, England, Wales and Scotland are better together. The cultural, geographical and historical bonds make us a unit that I want to see persist.
But beside any sentimentality, there are some serious questions to ask and practical issues to address. Here are just a few that spring to mind with regards to ecommerce:
What currency will we be trading in?
Here’s the big question. Will Scotland use Sterling if she becomes independent? Will Scotland be forced to use the Euro in the long run by the EU? Or will it use a new currency? Who knows? Massive uncertainty but maybe not an insurmountable ecommerce problem in time. But a different currency to England will surely make cross-border trading less attractive.
How will it affect couriers and postage?
I wonder what will happen to Royal Mail, for starters. The Universal Service is brilliant for remote areas in Scotland. One rate applies to all, whether you’re in Shepperton or Shetland.
And it will be a boon for the couriers. Many already have surcharges for the more distant parts of Scotland. Independence will be just the excuse they need to up rates and find greater profits for all shipments made to Scotland. Shipping stuff to Ireland is, after all, already more expensive.
What platforms will we be using?
Amazon quite cunningly have one marketplace for the UK and Ireland and seemlessly present that to buyers. eBay have two sites and will be reluctant to provide a third for eBay Scotland. Calls for it will be inevitable though. And what will happen to domain names?
Will there be duties and tariffs?
England and Scotland’s divorce might not be amicable. And in the brave new world of an independent Scotland, that may well be outside of the EU, there’s no certainty that the free movement of goods will persist as a principle. Both English and Scottish governments may be free to practice protectionism on cross-border trades. Not good news.
Will Scottish sellers be shut out?
It might all be just too complex for the big marketplaces. Too much hassle to bring Scottish sellers into eBay and Amazon with all the complications that might entail. And Scotland will be a small country. It might not be worth the investment to ensure that just five million Scots are served. Money might be better spent on 9 million Londoners. eBay or Amazon London would be a more profitable venture than anything tapered to Scots.
What do you reckon?