How UK Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Are Expanding Globally




A Report on How to Make Delivery Count

A Joint Report was published by GS1 UK and Enterprise Nation from research conducted with nearly 1000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the UK in June 2021. 

The Report highlights a multi-trillion-pound opportunity for the UK economy to expand globally, cites the barriers to success and how the UK government, trade and commercial bodies can support and encourage this palpable and dynamic trend.

Beyond Marketplaces & Making Delivery Count

The report cites the increasing emergence of ‘social selling’ on platforms such as Instagram and others, building a direct-to-consumer model beyond Amazon, selling not just to the EU but all over the world. UK SMEs have no problem finding buyers and markets in the US, Canada, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Australasia and beyond. The most frequently cited pain points relate to delivery, fulfilment and logistics. 

BREXIT impact

The report shows that there are some Brexit related wrinkles that SMEs would like to see resolved but many of those surveyed say that Brexit has no impact on their overseas sales. Unexpected duties, and some aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol, are causing friction for the UK to EU SME sales.

Data Collection Key

The role of product data to trade online or in-store is seen as critical. The ability to identify, capture and share product information is central to export success. Quality data helps get products listed, completes the paperwork to ensure efficient logistics as well as providing the much-needed consumer trust in their product.

Recommendations to Business and Government

The report focuses on making key recommendations to businesses serving the small business economy as well as policy suggestions to the UK government. Trade deals with the USA and countries in Asia to grease the export wheel are sought urgently. Equally, more useful advice from government honed to SMEs, specifically one and two-person operations turning over up to £250k, fledging exporters and start-ups will also help small businesses make an even bigger contribution to the government’s ambition of building a truly ‘Global Britain’.

About GS1 UK

GS1 UK is one of 115 neutral and independent GS1 organisations operating worldwide.

Whether online, in-store or in a hospital, the common language of GS1 standards is helping their community of over 54,000 organisations to uniquely identify, describe and track anything, creating greater trust in data for everyone.

Their standards have the power to deliver the change now and in the future by driving efficiency in the supply chain, and transparency in the wider society, through initiatives such as patient safety programmes and deposit return schemes.

From product barcodes to patient wristbands, we harness the power of GS1 standards to transform the way people work and live.


Mark Stimpfig
Mark Stimpfig
Mark Stimpfig co-founded GTM Global in 2015, having previously run national and international marketing programmes for clients like Sony, Dixons / PC World, Safeway and Reuters. Mark was also until recently, the London Development Director for Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the leading Economic Development Agency in North America in 2021/2022.