Just 46 per cent of the UK’s smallest business owners have created an online presence for their company, according to new data collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The figures reflect trends throughout 2015 and are based on a survey of 11,000 businesses across multiple sectors, including manufacturing, construction and the service industry.
While 97 per cent of large businesses (employing over 250 people) had a website, online companies with ten staff or fewer remained a minority.
The value in using the internet to obtain business is certainly there for micro enterprises. According to ONS, online sales represented eight per cent of all sales for small firms in 2015, totally £21.2bn.
Less than a third of micro business owners were found to be making efforts to access potential customers on social media platforms, despite the rise in designated business tools from the likes of Instagram and Facebook.
Further evidence has suggested that companies using ecommerce have higher expectations for business growth than those without a website.
According to the Capital Economics SME Growth Tracker, businesses with an online presence expected revenue to increase by 1.8 per cent over the next 12 months, compared to predicted growth of 1.3 per cent from companies not trading online.
Commenting on the tracker’s findings, Amazon’s UK country manager, Doug Gurr, stated that “technology has a big role to play in helping to foster small businesses across the UK”.
For the owners of small businesses wanting to access markets overseas and start exporting, creating a website can also bring your company to the attention of customers across the world.
A survey undertaken by online marketers Search Laboratory last year highlighted the value of online to exporting, with 83 per cent of respondents saying that having a website was crucial to overseas growth.
The benefits of online are not just available to retailers and those selling products and services – simply having basic information on a website with searchable contact details on Google can give companies a competitive edge.
One demographic appearing to buck the trend are the so-called “mumpreneurs” – businesswomen starting and running a company, often from home, while looking after young children.
Research from the Development Economics think tank has suggested that stay-at-home mothers have been able to capitalise on the flexibility of ecommerce sites such as eBay and Etsy, generating £7.2bn for the UK economy in 2014.
Of the rise in mum-run enterprises, eBay’s chief operating officer, Sarah Calcott, said that “improved connectivity and growing digital literacy is enabling ambitious, business-minded mums to realise and pursue successful enterprises”.
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