To Get Small Business Owners Online, eBay Inc. Hits the Road

eBay Inc. Staff

Driving Business Online, an eBay Inc. initiative in Australia, reaches out to small business owners.

With the support of Australia’s Prime Minister, eBay Inc.’s Driving Business Online (DBO) tour in Australia is attracting hundreds of small business owners keen to learn how to maximize their online presence and profitability.

PayPal Australia established DBO last year as a national initiative to educate the offline business population about online retail. The first DBO roadshow visited 14 regional towns in New South Wales. A team of online commerce experts met with hundreds of regional businesses to conduct workshops and provide them with tips and tools to grow their business online. The 2012 campaign is expanding its reach with eight workshop seminars across seven states and territories, a series of webinars and an educational website.

The level of interest in the initiative reflects the acknowledgement of more and more small and micro-businesses that as ecommerce ramps up in Australia, they can no longer afford to ignore it.

According to preliminary results of a study commissioned by PayPal Australia, the businesses that were quickest to get online have been more likely to increase their revenue. In the past year, business growth increased by an average of 5 percent for those that had sold online for at least 12 months; for those that hadn’t, business declined 4 percent. In addition, there are twice as many businesses struggling with the concept of moving online as there are successful eBay partners in Australia.

Two hundred and fifty people attended the 2012 kickoff event on Aug. 1 in Parramatta, Sydney. They met with senior leaders from eBay Inc. and partner organizations including Elena Wise, Director of PayPal Merchant Services, and Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association.

“Driving Business Online proactively provides our local small- and medium-size businesses with the tools and guidance to link their business with the online world. We’re excited to work with thousands of new local businesses throughout Australia during our 2012 campaign,” Elena said.

The two-hour Parramatta show included Q&As and presentations from online entrepreneurs sharing case studies, insights and practical knowledge on how to take your first steps online.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard emphasized the importance of online commerce via a video link message for DBO.

“I know technology can be daunting for some businesses, just like the advent of things like shopping malls and television were challenging to retailers in a previous generation,” the premier said. “The message from the roadshow is: Don’t be afraid . . . I don’t want to see anybody miss the fantastic opportunities that exist in the digital age.”

Added Robert Gerrish, keynote speaker and founder of the small business community Flying Solo: “Only 13 percent of small business owners have a website that actually brings in business. Driving Business Online is a great educational campaign that will help them reach, engage and sell.”

Bob Knuckey, founder of New South Wales-based startup, attested to that, saying that his sales grew significantly after his involvement in last year’s DBO show. Within a year, the business had moved into new offices, bought its own warehouse space and grown sales over 40 percent.

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