From 15th June, non-essential retail outlets should begin to open, provided they have implemented adequate safety measures to protect staff and customers. As footfall slowly returns to high-streets, businesses large and small are slowly starting to reopen. As some of those most affected as a result of the pandemic, small businesses and start-ups will undoubtedly be grateful that some form of normality is returning to consumers’ lives so that their businesses can get back on track.
At Awin, we're committed to supporting small and emerging businesses in the UK through our Awin Access entry-level solution for start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs. Our self-managed proposition opens up affiliate marketing to these smaller ecommerce businesses and provides a gateway to helping them boost their online revenue. While in-store purchases have not been possible since March, an increasing number of start-ups and SMEs have turned their attentions to online offerings, most notably affiliate marketing. In light of this, we want to take a look at the development of Awin Access throughout April and May, including programme performance updates and news, and discussing the sentiment of small businesses across the nation.
April & May performance
In support of small businesses, as the pandemic took hold Awin waived the monthly fee for the first three months for companies launching an Awin Access affiliate programme. All newly launched programmes could test out the risk-free channel on a performance only fee for three months, with no long term, contractual commitment. In only paying on confirmed (non-returned/cancelled) sales, our aim is to enable small businesses to forge publisher partnerships and diversify revenue streams; a leg up for those dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus.
Responding to the offer, 44 small businesses launched Access programmes in April and May, with all programmes seeing a 34% increase in traffic, 20% increase in transactions and 43% increase in sales revenue.
Many small businesses have responded to the challenges posed by the pandemic by ramping up their online efforts. In keeping with wider trends, those in the Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Sportswear, Gifts & Flowers, and Womenswear sectors have experienced the biggest growth.
Awin Access not only supports grassroots ecommerce in the UK, but also showcases smaller brands making a big impact. Twice a month we will spotlight one programme that is performing above and beyond in our Advertiser of the Week series. Selected by our Business Development Director, Michelle O’Sullivan, our first home-grown hero for May is Down Your High Street; “with more than 530 independent high-street retailers and over 50,000 products this new programme for me really beautifully complements the purpose of #AwinAccess and everything that we are trying to achieve with supporting grassroots brands”. You can learn more about partnering with Down Your High Street here.
Empowerment through partnership
In late April, we announced a collaboration with the Federation for Small Business (FSB), offering free 30-minute consultations to FSB members – available to book here. Exclusively available to FSB members, the consultation with an Awin team member provides the opportunity to learn more about affiliate marketing and establish whether it is right for their business. This partnership is part of a larger initiative set up by the FSB to provide resources and guidance to their members, all of which can be accessed via the FSB First Voices website.
The small business landscape: An optimistic outlook
The easing of lockdown measures and re-opening of non-essential retailers from 15th June means that we may be about to take the first steps on the road to recovery. Small companies account for more than five million enterprises in the UK, comprising 99% of all businesses. While not all will survive the coming months and years, utilising digital services will be an important part of their arsenal.
The crisis has propelled small businesses to take the ‘digital leap’; already forcing a large proportion of previously brick-and-mortar only retailers to move their operations online. In an interview with retail consultant Mary Portas by The Guardian, she confirms that there is increasing evidence of smaller and local businesses establishing themselves online – a encouraging outcome of an extremely challenging time.
“Many of them have woken up to: ‘Actually I can do deliveries. I can get a digital presence,’” she says. “I was talking to [a bookshop owner] the other day, and they said: ‘I’d never had a website before and I’ve set it up, and I’ve already taken 25% of what I took last year. And I’m able to deliver the next day in the way that Amazon can.’”
According to research undertaken by Simply Business, 57% of SMEs report feeling optimistic about life after coronavirus, with 75% certain they will continue or restart their business after the pandemic. One in ten of the 3,700 business-owners surveyed are confident they will start a new business once this period of uncertainty has ended. Although this business group has faced immense challenges over the past few months, it is encouraging to see such optimism and ambition from a group whose contribution to the economy in integral to its survival.
The Pitch, an independent start-up competition ran in the UK, conducted research into entrepreneurialism during the Covid-19 crisis; 11% of the 2,000 adults surveyed said they wanted to start a business because of the crisis. This enterprising spirit also compliments the resilience of the small business community. It is an interesting correlation to the 365,600 new businesses that were established in the UK in 2009 following the recession – a figure that subsequently grew for seven consecutive years.
Additionally Barclaycard Payments’ published data in late May revealing there had been a 24% increase since early April in the number of SME clients actively taking payments, proving that although the outlook is at times unsettling, SMEs are slowly starting to see the benefits of consumption habits regaining regularity.
Further information on Awin Access and how you can get started with an affiliate programme can be found here.