More than half of small companies miss out on online sales

It is reported that around 55% of the public find it difficult to support local small businesses with many of those businesses not being accessible online.

The Department of Business, Innovation & Skills has released figures that show that as many as two million, or 39% of small companies and sole traders are missing out on potential business due to having no online presence.

Additionally, more than half of British consumers consult search engines when looking to buy from local businesses, almost double the amount than would ask for word-of-mouth recommendations.

Total website sales in the UK are worth more than £164 billion, and small businesses and sole traders who are not yet operating online are missing out on their share.

Cyber Monday saw 115 million visits to retail websites by internet shoppers in the UK. In recognition of this demand, the UK government has been helping micro-businesses to increase their digital sales and enhance their offerings.

Measures to help businesses include £2 million of funding to 22 Local Enterprise Partnerships, which will help small local businesses to improve their digital presence.

One example of these developments includes a digital TV channel in Manchester, which provides easily-accessible and cost-effective advice to businesses. This activities are supported by events, advice, and networking sessions.

The government is also launching a campaign called “Do More Online” to bring advice to small business owners on how to access online resources:

Matthew Hancock, Business and Enterprise minister, said:

“Thousands of potential customers are searching online for local small businesses and without an online profile businesses will lose out.

“To make sure consumers get the best deal and small businesses spread their nets far and wide, the government is investing in expert advice to help them do more online. I am committed to making the UK the best place in the world to start up and grow, and this is integral to achieving that.”

Government entrepreneur-in-residence, Simon Devonshire, said:

“Government research suggests that nearly two million UK businesses are not online, and of those that do have an online presence; over two thirds are not transactional.

“I cannot think of a business to whom being online is not now vital to their trade, irrespective of their ambition to grow. I think those businesses that embrace the digital opportunity are improving their opportunity to reduce costs; to scale-up; and possibly even export – giving a further boost to the UK economy.”

Based on a sample of nearly 2,200 people, the government research shows that more consumers than ever are looking to the internet to find local small business and traders.

73% of respondents reported that it was important to them that they were able to review a company online if they intended to give it their custom. 57% agreed that if they didn’t find any evidence of a business online then they would be reluctant to do business with that company entirely.


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Words: Peter Cribley

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