Government confirms Online Commerce is Encouraged

By Chris Dawson April 14, 2020 - 9:00 am

The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, has written an open letter to everyone working in the UK’s retail sector thanking them for following the Government’s guidance. It also reminds everyone that online commerce is encouraged and the Internet is open for business.

There have been many conflicting views – some say that non-essential products shouldn’t be morally sold at this moment in time. Others point out that all the time customers want to buy, carrying on trading enables them to put food on the table. The Government’s view is that they have stipulated the mandatory closure of all businesses where large numbers of customers would congregate – high street retail, restaurants and pubs, leisure facilities and hotels, but that it’s important that business carries on where possible and the economy must be kept running.

In particular, Alok Sharma said in his letter that the Government has always been clear that Government confirms online commerce is encouraged and that postal and delivery services will continue to operate.

Government confirms Online Commerce is Encouraged

“The Government has always been clear that online retail can continue to operate and is encouraged, and that postal and delivery services will continue to operate. I want to pay tribute to all of you who continue to work tirelessly in the retail sector to ensure that the public can continue to access the goods they need in these challenging times.

The retail sector is a vital lifeline for those self-isolating, and for all of us in adhering to the Government’s social distancing guidelines. The goods that you supply make a real difference to our ability to get through this national crisis together, from the food and medicines that people need, to items ordered online to support home working, education or entertainment. Other goods, like electronics and technology, ensure people can remain connected virtually to friends and family, and hardware suppliers are ensuring people have the parts they need to carry out home repairs.”
– The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Help and advice for your business

There are many businesses who are now shut who have never sold online before. They will have stock sitting on their shelves which needs to be sold now – many will have spring stock whether it be garden supplies from seeds to plants or fashion with spring season garments which no one will want to buy at the end of the summer and online offers a route for these businesses, which certainly won’t replace their high street income, but may keep the business afloat.

To assist these offline businesses, eBay have waived all listing and final value fees for new sellers until the 31st of May.

Here at Tamebay we have partnered with ShipStation in a webinar taking place at 2pm this Friday the 17th of April titled Building resilience in challenging times. We’ll be looking at how online sellers can navigate through these challenging times as well as help for offline retailers who have never sold online before and how they can quickly migrate to selling online. If you haven’t registered yet you can sign up to attend the webinar here.

  • jim
    1 year ago

    we will just show this letter to the virus and tell it were immune

    • Stephen Wright
      1 year ago

      Guess we have to wipe it over all customer returns as well to de-contaminate that as well.

      Personally with my setup the only points of contamination are weekly orders coming in, Customer returns (how do I know that product x from customer Y isn’t contaminated – yet eBay etc still demand we accept 30-day returns and deal with them the split second they come back – no quarantine period…) and lastly Royal Mail (who have taken extra steps).

      The returns are the one that really worries me.

    • 1 year ago

      Actually Stephen, eBay gave you an extension on handling returns. You now have five days to issue a refund so feel free to quarantine returns for 72 hours before you process them.

  • jim
    1 year ago

    if you follow piers morgans
    its clear that government ministers have not a clue, they are floundering and unable ,
    a letter means little all when you have a ventilator tube bunged down your throat

  • Bob
    1 year ago

    Having watched “Jim” post on numerous topics (usually RM) – this post confirms previous thoughts…
    Anyone pointing to Piers Morgan to justify their comment is clearly just a prat…
    Sorry Jim – but really?

  • jim
    1 year ago

    no need to apologise bob
    piers morgan may be loud and arrogant but he has the measure of the bumbling twits with the only response is that they
    have a plan ,follow the science and do the right thing at the right time

  • Nick
    1 year ago

    It’s important, but I suspect highly unlikely, that sellers are going to act responsibly.

    But for those seeking the gist of what the chancellor is actually suggesting, rather than giving themselves the benefit of the doubt by latching onto the “government confirms on-line commerce is encouraged” line, it’s perhaps worth looking at what he is saying.

    The chancellor specifically mentions “food and medicines”, “items ordered online to support home working, education or entertainment”, “electronics and technology [that will] ensure people can remain connected ” and “hardware suppliers are ensuring people have the parts they need to carry out home repairs”. Does he mention fast fashion, furniture, or endless useless tat? No, so don’t think he’s just forgotten to mention these items.

    The chancellor is treading a fine line here, by hinting about appropriate expectations, while avoiding conflict that would be caused if he specified examples of items that certainly would not be deemed appropriate, and we must certainly not interpret his comments as a carte blanche to sell whatever we like, no matter how tempting this must be, as sellers.

    We’ve seen the problems being experienced by the post office and other delivery organisations, we understand the risk these workers are under, we know that hundreds of people are dying every day, we read that the virus can remain on packaging for up to 72 hours (for plastic, 24 hours for cardboard) and we hopefully understand that the resolution to this crisis depends on reducing the opportunities for contagion.

    And yet, here I am, reading that the chancellor’s comments should be interpreted to condone, in this case, the selling of “spring fashion”. By any margin of morality (bearing in mind the daily death toll, this cannot be a sensible interpretation of the chancellor’s message.

    I suspect that we’ll not see a reduction in the sale of what most people would regard as unnecessary right now unless the chancellor actually came round to their home and told them to stop clogging up the postal service with ridiculously superfluous items, a distinctly anti-social practice that is clearly hampering the shipping of essential items.

    Sellers: search your conscience before listing stuff that you know people don’t really need.
    Buyers: resist the temptation to buy this stuff, and help keep the postal system free for essential items.

    • Nick
      1 year ago

      I meant Alok Sharma, not the chancellor. Been a long day.

    • Jim
      1 year ago

      We agree
      Though we feel for those whose business home and income is at risk

    • NorthCrystal
      1 year ago


      Wise words and totally agreed.

      The buyers probably won’t stop their temptation though. Meanwhile, Next the retailer, have had to “close” its website at 8:30am as they reached the max orders for today…. They were apparently not online trading for 3 weeks. Now, I’m not Next customer base but AFAIR they mainly sell fashions and furniture. People are inresponsible.

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