Going online means going strong for small business

MORE than one in three small businesses in Queensland (36%) have made their products available for purchase online and those that have are reaping the benefits, according to a nationwide survey.

The American Express survey of more than 1000 small business owners across the nation shows that those in Queensland who have embraced e-commerce are 26% more likely to have reported a profit increase in the 2011-12 financial year.

Those small businesses in Queensland who have introduced e-sales say it accounts for more than half (56%) of their revenue and the majority (62 per cent) predict an increase in this type of trade in the next 12 months.

"Small business owners in Queensland who have incorporated e-commerce into their business are seeing it as a worthwhile investment and appear confident of its long-term benefits," Amelia Zaina, American Express Head of Marketing and Customer Engagement, said.

"This comes at a time when having an online presence is becoming more and more important for small businesses. In fact, business owners in Queensland cite company websites and Facebook pages as the most effective marketing channels."

Social media drives revenue growth
The American Express survey also found that social media has helped almost one quarter (23%) of small business owners in Queensland to grow their business and those that attribute business growth to social media are more likely to have reported an increased profit in 2011-12 (46%) than those who don't (34%).

Small business operators in Queensland who use social media believe it has helped them grow their business in several ways, including:

  • Raising brand awareness (68%);
  • Sourcing new customers (54%); and
  • Generating new sales (39%).

"These findings support the notion that small businesses who have gone online and are using social media, are seeing comparatively stronger revenue growth," Ms Zaina said.

"While different channels work better for different industries, both e-commerce and social media can be innovative and affordable. Businesses can benefit in many ways to offset the impact of tough economic times on their business."

Non-embracers reluctant to introduce e-sales
Despite the success of e-commerce, those small businesses in Queensland that have not established an e-sales strategy are reluctant to do so, with only 9% planning to sell their products and services online in the next 12 months. 

An equally small number consider e-commerce necessary for future-proofing their business.

"This reluctance can partly be explained by the significant proportion of respondents (38%) who don't find e-commerce relevant to their business, a view most prevalent among those in construction, finance, insurance and professional services," Ms Zaina said.

"Some small business owners in Queensland also say they are not sure how to approach adopting e-commerce with their main concerns surrounding difficulties in setting up the payment platform. Seeking out information and advice on how to do this could potentially benefit their business and allay any concerns they may have.

"Fortunately for small business owners, the internet offers limitless opportunities so even those who feel e-commerce isn't right for them can make use of the online opportunities offered by social media to promote their products and grow their business."

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