Small firms miss out on £193 billion of online sales

Up to two million sole traders and small companies are missing out because they have no online presence.

This is one of the findings of new research . It found that 55% of consumers say it is difficult to support local small firms because often these businesses aren’t online.

In addition, 52% of shoppers go straight to search engines when looking to buy from local businesses – nearly double the number that ask for word-of-mouth recommendations.

Website sales in the UK are worth £193 billion but the research suggests that 39% of sole traders and small firms are still not active online.

“Thousands of potential customers are searching online for local small businesses and without an online profile businesses will lose out,” said business and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock.

“To make sure consumers get the best deal and small businesses spread their nets far and wide, the government is investing in expert advice to help them do more online.”

Rachel Neaman, of Go ON UK, said: “31% of small businesses in the UK lack basic digital skills, making them less competitive than many of their peers. The UK is embracing technology more and more with new jobs and new businesses being ‘born on the web’; yet just half of small businesses and charities have a website.”

Simon Devonshire, the government entrepreneur-in-residence, said: “Government research suggests that nearly two million UK businesses are not online, and of those that do have an online presence, over two-thirds are not transactional. Those businesses that embrace the digital opportunity are improving their opportunity to reduce costs; to scale-up; and possibly even export – giving a further boost to the UK economy.”

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