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Is Scotland the eCommerce ‘Zimbabwe’? Or a growth industry?

A recent article in the Herald Scotland, ‘eCommerce is a global treasure trove … but Scotland’s more serious about belly dancing’, questions why Scottish government and businesses have yet to take advantage of the enormous opportunities presented by eCommerce.

While the article makes a strong point that much more could be done to promote Ecommerce as a business opportunity in Scotland, it is perhaps unfair to claim that Scotland is ‘the Zimbabwe of the globalised eCommerce marketplace’, as specialist Peter Mowforth puts it.

Rather, eCommerce in Scotland is a healthy and growing industry, lead by innovative small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) offering niche products and taking advantage of all the promotional opportunities that internet marketing offers.

One such model is Skyscanner, the Edinburgh-based flight comparison website, which has used effective search engine optimisation (SEO) practices to climb to the top of the Google rankings for keywords such as ‘cheap flight comparison’. This is no small feat – research has shown that 35% of all web traffic goes to the top Google-ranked site – that’s double the traffic of the second ranked site.

Occupancy Marketing, another Edinburgh company that specialises in internet marketing for the hotel and hospitality sector, has also seen great success online, reaching the top three of the Google rankings for their relevant keywords.

Two more Edinburgh companies that are experiencing continued eCommerce success are online dating service Easy Date – which has embraced the foreign language internet with localised websites for the UK, France, Germany and Spain – and online tire business Black Circles.

At Lingo24, meanwhile, we’ve experienced the benefits of eCommerce and online marketing first hand, seeing an increase in turnover for professional translation services of 30% each year since the start of the recession, a statistic we attribute to understanding how internet marketing works across languages. Indeed, you’ll often find us extolling the benefits to businesses of international eCommerce far and wide.

While eCommerce in Scotland will certainly benefit from more attention from politicians and policy makers, it’s unfair to claim that it’s a digital wasteland when there are so many Scottish businesses having great success online.

And the more Scottish businesses that start taking advantage of the benefits of eCommerce and online marketing, the more those in charge of economic development will sit up and take notice.

Christian Arno, Founder and President, Lingo24

Christian Arno is Founder and President of Lingo24. He started the company in 2001 after graduating from Oxford University with a degree in languages. He has won numerous awards including HSBC Business Thinking and International Trade Awards (2010), and TAUS Excellence Award (2012) for innovative technology. He contributes to leading industry publications and has been featured on the BBC, in the Financial Times and other media around the world.

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