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British Firms Lacking ‘Digital Maturity’, Study Finds

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Many UK SMEs lack proper websites or the capacity to handle online customers, survey finds

The UK’s small businesses are failing to maximise the potential offered by digital technology in helping to grow and expand their business, according to new research.

A study by Johnston Press and Buzzboard found many British SMEs are still not ‘digital ready’, with 71 percent saying they are incapable of handling online consumers, meaning they could be missing out on millions of pounds in revenues every year.

This is despite two-thirds of consumers using the web to discover relevant information about the things they want to buy, and 75 percent saying that they shop online.

bankrupt business beg fail © Bernad ShutterstockReady and willing

The study, which examined over one million UK small businesses for seven signs of ‘digital readiness’, also found that 44 percent of small firms had no website to speak of.

Those that did have a website often failed to utilise it effectively to engage with their customers, with only half having a contact form and less than 40 percent providing an email address. 93 percent of sites also provided no contact number on the home page, meaning many companies were effectively uncontactable.

60 percent of websites were also not compatible across platforms, a worrying statistic when considering the number of consumers that now shop via their mobile device.

Social media opportunities were also found to be severely lacking for many businesses, the survey found, as 69 percent of companies had no Twitter account, 70 percent no Facebook page and 89 percent no LinkedIn.

“Digital opportunities offer huge potential for small firms and so it is shocking to see so few are getting this right,” said Chris Brake, managing director of Johnston Press’ Digital Kitbag service.

“Small businesses are in a prime position to drive the UK economy, but to fulfil their potential they must recognise the importance of digital and also take advantage of the numerous sources of help and advice available to them”

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