Online marketplace eBay is launching a ‘Retail Revival’ partnership with City of Wolverhampton over the next 12 months.

The move is part of a bid to help small retailers get online, grow the local economy and demonstrate that online and high street retail can work seamlessly together.

The partnership will see experts from the marketplace stationed in the city to provide exclusive support to small retailers who want to start up or expand their online presence.

The announcement comes as new research commissioned by eBay and conducted by YouGov and Development Economics shows that a quarter of small retailers do not have an online presence aimed at generating sales. This is defined as a website, social media channels or a presence on an online marketplace.

Worryingly, nearly a quarter said they had no plans to close this 'digital gap' in the future.

The research shows that were these businesses to close the 'digital gap', they could benefit from as much as £4.1 billion in extra sales revenue each year. This equates to £19,250 in additional annual revenue per individual business currently without an online presence.

The partnership will see eBay provide support such as onboarding assistance to Wolverhampton's retailers.

This includes one-on-one support to create a personalised eBay shop, including their full inventory. 

Retail Revival sellers will also participate in a comprehensive training program that covers eBay selling basics, strategies for getting the most out of eBay's platform as well as digital skills such as SEO, online advertising and social media marketing, plus a range of other benefits.

eBay will work with research consultancy Development Economics to evaluate the partnership as it progresses and create a blueprint that can be adopted by other UK towns to bolster their retail businesses.

"We know that customer shopping behaviour is changing - but online should play an important part in helping businesses in our local communities to thrive,” said Vice President of eBay in the UK Rob Hattrell.

“I've seen that Wolverhampton businesses have the creativity matched with the entrepreneurial skill to create products needed and wanted all over the world - and eBay will help them to sell in the way they want to online.

“We should be very proud of the incredible strength of the small businesses of the UK and must seek to empower them more."

A business in the City of Wolverhampton that has already seen the benefits of selling online is Almaskiya.

Founded by Mohammed Agha to support his family following their arrival from Syria in 2013, the business sells a variety of products, including kitchenware, homeware and traditional Islamic items.

Since starting his business, Agha has also used eBay to support others fleeing conflict, and has trained almost 90 people on how to create an account, research, price and sell on the platform.

"eBay has given me fantastic opportunities and allowed me to start a successful business with ease,” he said.

“It's helped me create a better life for me, my family and has helped me teach others in a similar situation. It's great to see the project coming to Wolverhampton where I hope other entrepreneurs will have the same experience."