A recent report by Virgin Media has found that almost half of all UK SME’s don’t use their website as a tool to generate leads and a quarter of the businesses don’t have any form of online presence.
There is seemingly a considerable gap in understanding of how to use the internet to generate leads in large proportion of UK SMEs. Indeed the FSB reported in their Small Business & Online Trading report that the most serious barriers are the cost of developing and maintaining a website, and a lack of IT skills. With the growth of platforms such as WordPress and Weebly there are relatively easy and affordable website building platforms, however the real issue appears to be a lack of understanding in the digital area.
The Virgin Media report found that an estimated 13% of UK SMEs had no plans to build a website for their business. However, overall the report did identify that SMEs are optimistic about the future potential of technology within their business with over half of businesses planning to increase their spend in the area by at least 20% in the next decade.
Richard Branson commented on the report “The way we do business has been transformed and trade online is growing at around 20% a year, so it’s now not just a case of making the most of an opportunity for your business, it is crucial for business survival.”
Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey said: “Encouraging as many people as possible to get online and get the most out of the internet is vitally important in the digital world we live in. Research shows that companies that embrace technology will grow faster, export and create more jobs. That’s why Government has introduced funding for Broadband Connection Vouchers to improve internet access for small and medium sized businesses. We are also working in partnership with digital charity Go On UK to make it easy for small firms to find the right support to help them improve their digital skills and do more business online.
While we are witnessing a digital revolution culturally, there remains a worrying skills divide between SMEs that are maximising digital and firms that are struggling to embrace the opportunities that an online presence can provide. Digital trading has the power to revolutionise UK SMEs and clearly some SMEs need greater support to realise the growth potential.