Digital has been so engrained in our behaviour as consumers that some times it seems almost impossible to imagine a world without it. Clearly any business that ignores technology does so at their peril so you would imagine most enterprises, irrespective of size, were firm converts to the digital approach. But you’d imagine wrong. According to research from enterprise communications provider O2 Business, small businesses are losing out on £13bn in yearly sales by underestimating the importance of technology.
The ‘Shining a Light’ report surveyed 2,000 customers from around the UK and demonstrated just how seriously consumers take their tech. Respondents rated internet search engines as the second most common way for them to find out about a business – 57% said they’d look online to help them select which offering to use, pipped only by personal recommendations at 68%. In comparison, relatively few consumers rely on business directories or classified ads – just 26% and 23% respectively of customers utilised these methods.
How customers research small businesses – infographic courtesy of O2 Business
But it’s not all just about visibility; a presence online also strongly influences the way a business is perceived. A quarter of respondents said they simply would not use a business if they discovered it didn’t have a website. Those that did have an online and social media presence were viewed by almost two-thirds of consumers as being more modern and up-to-date and nearly half felt it was a reflection of how customer focused they were. Additionally 30% of customers felt a small enterprise should have a transactional website and 12% expected companies to have a Facebook page with which they could interact.
Whilst the UK has plenty of micro-businesses riding the tech wave, it seems we still have a little way to go before we’re making the best use of the opportunities the digital realm can offer. So come on chaps: get yourselves online.