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Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are potentially missing out on billions of dollars of online sales this Christmas because they don’t have a website or are lacking ecommerce capabilities.

In a Telstra survey of over 1,000 SMEs, nearly half (49 per cent) reported not having a website. Of those that do, more than one third (38 per cent) reported it was not optimised for mobile devices.

Executive Chairman of NORA (National Online Retailers Association), Paul Greenberg, said businesses should consider upgrading their online presence in time for Christmas.

“We expect to see consumer online sales exceed those of last year, as more people go online to search and make enquiries or purchases across categories from food and beverages to toys, clothing, accessories, gift hampers, electronics and health and beauty products,” he said.

“Around 7 to 8 per cent of retail sales are made online, however the real number of sales influenced by online could be even higher as the way people shop means a sale might start online, but finish up in-store.”

A majority of SMEs (51 per cent) said they didn’t have a website as they saw it as an unnecessary cost, while others saw a website as too difficult to set up and didn’t know where to start.

Having the right digital presence is important for capturing online sales and for being found in search results said Telstra executive director of connected business, Kevin Udell.

“Increasing numbers of people are researching, planning and making their purchases from anywhere at any time so it is important that businesses offer customers the chance to interact with their brand when, where and how they want to,” he explained.

“The three most important parts to being online-ready are having a fresh, credible, professional looking website; making sure your website is available across multiple channels, including mobile; and having a strong inventory management platform to help you sell online.”

For retailers with websites, 59 per cent said they still depended on the physical, in-store experience to make sales.

“For business customers who want to grow online, it’s important to think about developing a website which can grow as your business requirements do, whether that is being found on Google, selling online or promoting your site,” said Udell.

Those with e-commerce functionality cited benefits including attracting more customer enquiries to grow their business (35 per cent), providing a better customer experience (27 per cent), providing an online brochure of the business (22 per cent) and enhancing their ability to compete against larger businesses (15 per cent).


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