Irish SMEs losing out on €8.4 billion digital economy.
Only 14% of SMEs trading online.
Poor broadband and insufficient knowledge the main reasons.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, called on Government to develop a comprehensive strategy to assist SMEs in commencing online trading. The Association's research in this area found that only 14% of SMEs are currently capable of fully trading online, while a further 8% can take orders but not payments online. This places SMEs at a huge disadvantage in the €8.4 billion Irish digital economy, as consumers increase their on-line purchases at a rate of 20% per annum.
According to CEO, Mark Fielding, "SMEs need to move fast to get their businesses online to begin benefitting from the explosion in ecommerce. Irish consumers are spending almost €700,000* an hour online but SMEs are largely unable to tap into this market as a result of poor broadband, despite the Government's National Broadband Plan".
The ISME research shows:
14% of SMEs are currently capable of fully trading on-line.
31% of businesses have broadband that is not adequate for their business needs.
14% of businesses have no online presence.
15% display contact details and company information online- not product information.
48% display products/services on their website and give contact details for orders.
8% can take orders but not payments online.
15% think that setting up a website wouldn't result in a good return on investment.
12% are trying to set up a website at present.
"The Online Trading Voucher scheme has been of some help to just over one thousand micro businesses in getting their business online. However, the scheme is too limited in scale and the eligibility criteria are too restrictive. The limited success of the scheme must be built on, with the introduction of an indigenous businesses online strategy. The world of e-tailing is becoming vitally important to retail businesses in particular, and most Irish retailers are now already behind the curve when it comes to establishing an online presence."
The return on investment for the Government is obvious in that the Net Jobs Impact is over one and a half jobs according to McKinsey research.
"Retailing has evolved to a point where people expect to view products online prior to visiting a store. Consumers also expect to order online and collect in store or to have fast delivery of goods. The stores that survive in the coming years will be the ones that adapt to the evolving world of retail now, in order to meet their customer's expectations in the future."
"For jobs and exports, the benefits of on-line trading are self-evident. Government needs to prioritise this issue immediately. The inadequate broadband is resulting in the vast majority of businesses missing out on the e-tailing and export opportunities, worth billions," concluded Fielding.