2015: what’s in store for ecommerce SMEs?

Happy New Year!

We’re not in the business of making predictions but here are four thing on the horizon in 2015 that will likely have an impact on your business. Here’s hoping 2015 is a prosperous one for us all.

eBay and Paypal divorce
Expected to come up in the third quarter of 2015, eBay and PayPal will be going their separate ways. Good news for stock holders but hard to see how it will benefit sellers and buyers in the short term. Indeed, whilst the staff are working towards the split their attentions will be on that so there’s a risk innovation will slow.

Several possible scenarios in the split are possible. Firstly, it might not happen at all and eBay and PayPal both get snapped up before they split. Equally, if they do split, there’s a solid chance that one or both are snapped up relatively quickly by bigger players.

And don’t forget that after 2014 (which saw hacks and fails on the site), eBay has a case to make and prove that its platform is 100% reliable.

Competition among couriers
We are, to a great extent, in a state of flux when it comes to couriers so there’s real uncertainty here. The market is crowded. There are some small skirmishes in a price war and we know some are struggling. Yodel couldn’t keep up in the weeks before Christmas, for example.

City Link was just the first to hit the wall and we’ll likely see some more problems like that too. The key point here is how you’re prepared to deal with it. City Link was a relatively small provider for ecommerce SMEs but a bigger casualty going bust could be a real pain or many more sellers.

New marketplaces?
The key player here will be Rakuten.co.uk and it will be interesting to see whether it has legs. As it stands, especially as so many existing merchants there haven’ been transitioned, it’s difficult to see that the new play.com is going to be a major challenger to eBay and Amazon any time soon.

But the fact remains that a new player would be welcome and there is space for a third big player. We’ll doubtless see plenty of smaller marketplaces in niches launched. And no bad thing either.

EU VAT Concerns
Yesterday saw the launch of what is being called #vatmoss. It’s a new EU regulation that means sellers of digital goods, such as ebooks or music downloads, are liable for VAT on the location of the buyer not the seller.

It’s an admin nightmare and the £81k threshold doesn’t apply for such sellers. The real concern here is that a relatively successful roll-out of this reg means that the EU Commission might seek to extend the policy to all goods sold online to the EU.

It’s not pie-in-the-sky. It was originally proposed as such by the EU but some member states kicked back. For our money, the biggest threat to ecommerce SMEs in 2015 is the possible extension of this law to physical goods sold from the UK to other states in the EU .