World First’s inaugural Online Seller Cellar brought together online exporters and marketplace sellers from across the North-West for an evening of education and networking. Our own Corporate Market Analyst, Edd Hardy, reflects on the evening and the region’s successful online seller community.

The North-West does things differently

I met and spoke with businesses from across the North-West this week at our Online Seller Cellar and its clear there’s something different in the air up north. According to Tech City UK, the digital economy in Manchester is second only to London by number of jobs and close to 300,000 people in the North are employed in the tech sector. This isn’t a recent development either; the strength of technology and online business in Manchester and the wider area stretches back for decades.

The history of online businesses and digital companies from the North-West is rich and fruitful; companies such as, AO World and AutoTrader all trace their roots back to the area. And, all these companies have similar characteristics – they’ve approached a crowded, established and seemingly saturated market (clothes, white goods and car trading respectively), spotted an opportunity and exploited it to great success. Our event this week proved that there’s plenty more to come from the North-West online seller community.

Help is out there, you just have to find it

At the event, I spoke with Jason Iftakhar of Swifty Scooters as well as Alex Buckley of WAKE Drinks on their success in making a business work overseas and reaching consumers across the globe. Both businesses now have an established track record of selling to consumers from Honolulu to Shanghai – but they needed help along the way. The use of trade missions, local export growth funds and international agents featured heavily in both their success stories.

Our panel focused on the services that are out there helping UK businesses expand internationally. We heard how the Department for International Trade’s E-Exporting Programme supports UK businesses trading overseas through boosting their marketing and online presence. We Are Pentagon talked us through how their service helps sellers reach global customers through marketplace integration and PIVOT International walked us through the advantages of diversifying your customer base by reaching out to the Middle-East, USA and New Zealand.

World First’s Online Seller Cellar event series will be travelling across the UK this year gathering some of the nation’s up-and-coming online businesses. Get in touch with our Ecommerce team to find out how we could help you manage your international transfers or drop us an email to to find out when we’ll be coming to a city near you.