Northern Ireland: SMEs without websites could miss out on a significant amount of business

Monday 2 December 2013 13:39 CET | News

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Northern Ireland are not making themselves too visible for potential customers because they do not take into account consumers’ preference for using the web and social media to find local businesses, recent findings indicate.

According to data from hibu, a digital services provider, more than half (53%) of SME employees in Northern Ireland have declared that their business did not have a website and only around a third (31%) think that their customers actively use the web to search for products and services. In fact, the real figure is actually more than 2 ½ times higher, with 80% of Northern Irish people using search engines to research new local businesses, making it the most popular way to find new products and services.

The same source unveils that in this case, SMEs could be missing out on a significant amount of business. Almost half (48%) of Northern Irish consumers said that they would be less likely to visit or call a business that did not have a website. Of local SMEs without a website, 68% said that they did not need one.

The survey also points out that Northern Ireland’s businesses are seriously underestimating consumers’ use of social media. Result show that only 43% of businesses believe their customers are not very active on social websites, whereas in reality 74% of consumers are regular users of Facebook and 26% use social media to research local businesses.

When it comes to customers, the study reveals that 37% of them are annoyed by businesses that don’t have a website. Furthermore, 76 % of consumers say that a poor quality website would make them less likely to visit or call that company, but only 13% of local SMEs said that their websites were ‘beautiful’ and 43% admitted that they had not updated their websites in the last six months.

The survey was undertaken by Toluna Analytics on behalf of hibu in October 2013 and polled 1,120 employees in small and medium-sized enterprises and 2,996 consumers in the following cities or regions: Birmingham, Northern Ireland, London, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol and Brighton. The surveys were conducted online, so the respondents were internet users.

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Keywords: Northern Ireland, e-commerce, online business
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: World
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