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November 02, 2012

Also in the news this week — 2nd November 2012

Open to Export launches

Hibu, a digital services provider, and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) have announced the launch of Open to Export, an online service to help UK-based SMEs to trade internationally. Businesses can register for free, connect with the exporting community and ask specific questions. Answers are provided by UKTI officers based in UK Embassies and High Commissions throughout the world, recognised third-party experts and experienced small businesses.

Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, said: "Half of the UK's exports, by value, already come from SMEs. Open to Export will provide practical assistance, advice and support to other businesses looking to make that crucial first step to sell into foreign markets."

Young shoppers take to social networks when online service fails

Research from Rakuten reveals that over a third of shoppers (37%) believe the quality of customer service is more important online than in-store. And nearly half of under-25s and over a third of 25-34 year olds turn to social media when other customer service channels fail, in order to air their concerns publically. The survey of 1,000 UK consumers reveals that while the majority of UK shoppers seek customer service support by email (49%) or phone (43%), younger shoppers are highly likely to turn to social channels when these touch points fail. Loyalty programs are the biggest incentive to make a second purchase online, according to 39% of shoppers surveyed.

Many UK businesses are still nervous of cloud computing

A survey on attitudes towards cloud computing conducted by Esker has shown that 83% of businesses view the cloud with suspicion and are afraid to host their IT platforms, infrastructure and software within the cloud. The overwhelming concern was data security, with 73% of respondents citing this as their main reason for not using cloud-based solutions. This was followed by concerns over privacy (53.3%), accessibility (50%) and risk (50%). Other key areas of concern were cost (40%) and lack of control (40%).

HMRC relaunches Business Records Checks

Business Records Checks are being re-launched by HMRC following a review. The redesigned programme now involves a new step-by-step approach, with more emphasis on education and support. Businesses need to keep records that clearly demonstrate they are meeting their tax responsibilities. From this month, HMRC will send letters to businesses it believes may be at risk of keeping inadequate records, and will phone and visit those businesses that need more support.

Insolvency rates fall but many businesses still teeter on the edge

In the past two quarters, company insolvencies have decreased and in this quarter hit the lowest level for seven quarters, according to RSM Tenon. Q3 2012 was the lowest quarter in volume of corporate insolvencies since Q4 of 2010 with only 4,700, a drop of 14% compared to the previous quarter and 17% compared to Q3 in 2011. However, RMS Tenon says that many businesses are still teetering on the edge. Chris Ratten, head of restructuring at RSM Tenon, said "Growth in the UK economy remains flat and we are still living in highly uncertain times. We believe this year corporate insolvencies will hit the same levels as the previous two years – approximately 21,000 insolvencies."