Small Companies Not Exploiting £20bn Industry
Small firms need to ensure that their websites sell their products and services to avoid missing out on one of the most thriving industries in the UK
Small businesses are missing out on a £20bn a year industry by not exploiting their companies website to sell their products and services online, according to a survey conducted by BT.
With the majority of business sectors in the UK either contracting or showing no growth, the online industry is bucking the trend. Small firms could increase their turnover by increasing, or updating their online presence to ensure that customers can use their sites to purchase what they want.
BT's Voice of Small Businesses survey revealed that despite the number of small companies with their own website rising by 20% between 2007 and 2008 to 80%, six out of ten small firms do not use their company website to sell their products and services.
The survey polled more than 400 firms that employ a maximum of 50 staff. As well as revealing the amount of firms with their own sites the survey also revealed SME attitudes towards the internet. The research discovered that the majority of SMEs are underestimating the importance of the web, with just 13% considering websites integral to marketing strategy and only 3% using their site to communicate with consumers.
"Small companies can benefit greatly by exploiting the marketing and sales opportunities afforded by the internet," said Mick Hegarty of BT Tradespace.
"During these challenging times, more people than ever are using the web to shop because of the choice, convenience and cost savings it provides. A professional and credible online presence can open up a world of opportunities and provides a great platform to engage with customers."
For small firms to update or increase their online activity does not have to be expensive or time-consuming and the potential rewards are massive.
Recently released figures by the IMRG and Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index showed that the internet is one of the few areas in the UK relatively unaffected by the recession.
Figures showed that online shopping in the UK rose 25% in 2008 and that over the Christmas period 65% of shoppers spent more online than on the high street.
"The number of firms using the internet to sell their goods is too low, especially in a recession," said Stephen Alambritis, chief spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses.
"There is clearly an opportunity to create sales online, not least because people are increasingly preferring to stay at home and shop rather than go out."
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