One in four Irish small businesses has no website or any form of digital presence, new research shows. And ‘micro-businesses’ with under five employees are ignoring the web, with 42pc saying they don’t have a website.
As two of the biggest annual retail dates – ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ – loom, a survey conducted by the regulatory IE Domain Registry shows that 50,000 Irish businesses have little interest in engaging with customers online.
The research shows a majority of offline diehards do not intend to build a website in the future, with three out of four surveyed saying that online activity is not for them.
Of those admitting a digital presence, just two out of three have a dedicated website with the rest maintaining social media accounts on Facebook and other services.
Small firms representative body ISME estimates that there are 200,000 small to medium-sized businesses in Ireland. Asked about the online marketing activity between now and January, only 14pc of Irish SMEs said that they would consider any digital initiatives.
The statistics may indicate that small firms are out of touch with consumers, with recent research indicating that a third of Irish people intend to buy online during this year’s ‘Cyber Monday’, which occurs next week.
Meanwhile, the IEDR says that Irish small businesses have improved their position on what it calls a ‘Digital Health Index’.
The metric scores nine digital attributes including a firm’s website, online sales, marketing, analytics, apps and social media presence.
The IEDR says that Irish firms’ score has risen from 37.4 in May of last year to 43.4 today.
Its survey indicates that of the three-quarters of Irish SMEs that have a digital presence, almost half (42pc) can now take sales orders online and over a third (35pc) can process payments online.
The IEDR says that, over the three waves of research from May 2014 to September 2015, the total number of SMEs with the ability to process sales online has grown from 1pc in May 2014 to 8pc.
The survey also shows that almost two-thirds (63pc) now have mobile-optimised websites while 52pc use video content.
Despite this, three-quarters of those small firms with no digital presence say that they do not intend to build a website in future, with most (73pc) saying that they don’t need one.
And while over half (54pc) of Irish SMEs say that they advertise, just 16pc choose digital formats.
It also found that micro-enterprises employing 10 people or less are more likely not to have a website than those with more than 10 employees (37pc v 6pc).
When it comes to using social media for business purposes, just over half of Irish small firms have a Facebook account, while one in five (22pc) use Twitter.
Just 16pc use Linkedin for business purposes but this has doubled in the last 18 months, according to the survey.
Meanwhile, Twitter usage has grown by half, while Facebook use has only marginally increased (16pc) in the last year and a half.
Facebook and Twitter account holders are the most active social media users for business purposes, at 38pc and 36pc daily usage, respectively. Linkedin account holders only occasionally check in, with just 9pc of Irish small firms using the service on a daily basis.
The IEDR sample was 500 small to medium-sized businesses in Ireland surveyed in September of this year.
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