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Institute outlines £55bn e-commerce opportunity

Institute members (L-R): Emil Stickland, Gillian Crawford, Graeme Harrowell, Peter Mowforth

Plans for fuelling Scotland’s growth through e-commerce will be unveiled this week by a newly-formed group of practitioners.

The Institute of Ecommerce will detail how the business community can tap into a £55 billion opportunity in Scotland at an even hosted by Dean Lockhart MSP at Holyrood on Tuesday.

The Institute represents a public-private partnership straddling the public sector, business and the education sector. It will help to deliver support and training to thousands of Scottish businesses over the next five years.

The UK has the third largest e-commerce turnover in the world and is estimated that Scotland has the potential to generate around £55bn in online sales.

Dr Peter Mowforth, co-founder of the Institute of Ecommerce said: “Like never before, we need to equip businesses here in Scotland with the skills, techniques and tools to ensure that we don’t get left behind in what is fast becoming the primary mechanism for driving productivity, wealth and exports.”

The Institute is partnering with The Business School at the University of Strathclyde to deliver the first e-commerce course of its kind in the UK, targeted at senior e-commerce managers.

Designed to close the skills gap which is the primary handbrake on the growth of e-commerce in Scotland, the first session of the pilot course – which was heavily oversubscribed – took place last month.

It is supported by Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland and runs until the end of June, with keynote speakers to include senior figures from Google and Amazon. 

Further specialist and beginners courses are in development as well as a programme of e-commerce grassroots clubs already running in Glasgow and Stirling and due to be extended to Edinburgh and Aberdeen. 

Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes said:  “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring Scotland has a vibrant digital economy, with digital trade and ecommerce key to achieving this goal.

“As outlined in ‘A trading nation – an export plan for Scotland’, we support e-commerce programmes which improve productivity, increase competitiveness and allow businesses to reach their full potential in a digital world.

“The Institute of Ecommerce, and its work on analysing data, providing digital skills and building capacity amongst businesses, is helping Scotland achieve our ambition of becoming a leading digital nation.”

The Institute is driven by:

  • Dr Peter Mowforth, founder and director of the Institute of Ecommerce.  CEO at INDEZ, Scotland’s longest established web business. Founding director of The Turing Institute.
  • Dr John Anderson, a well-known specialist in entrepreneurship and growth.  Head of SME Engagement at Strathclyde Business School, where he acts as Programme Director on the Scale-Up Institute endorsed Growth Advantage Programme.
  • Gillian Crawford, a former national newspaper journalist and commentator in Scotland. She has founded two successful ecommerce brands, lilyblanche.com  and  tartantwist.com.  Mrs Crawford is chairman of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAWE) Scotland and an ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland.
  • Graeme Harrowell, managing director of Dimensions, a provider of outsourced e-commerce fulfilment and delivery services throughout UK and Europe. Director of Rocio, a rapidly growing Scottish brand that designs, manufactures and sells luxury handmade wooden handbags with an artistic and sustainable focus. 
  • Emil Stickland, Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Ecommerce. E-commerce Director at TRR Nutrition and LQ Collagen, two fast growing online supplement brands. Google Squared Alumni, CIMA Qualified, Finance Graduate – Durham University, Speaker and Author.


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