Australian businesses still shunning online sales: Report

More than half of Australian businesses don’t promote or sell products and services online, with a quarter believing that a website wouldn’t benefit their business at all, according to new research.


The MYOB Business Monitor Online Special Report is based on a nationwide survey of 1,000 Australian business owners, from sole traders to mid-sized companies, across a range of industry sectors.


The report reveals the number of businesses with a website has increased to 39%, up from 35% in November last year, while a further 22% plan to create a website within the next 12 months.


It also reveals that businesses with a website are more successful – 32% reported a revenue increase in the past 12 months, compared to 22% of businesses without a website.


Businesses with websites are also more likely to expect increased sales in the next three months, and display greater confidence that their revenues will increase in the coming 12 months.


WA leads the way on a state-by-state basis; 43% of businesses in this state have an online presence, followed by NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia.


However, the report highlights the hesitancy among many business owners to develop an online presence, with 57% saying they don’t promote or sell products or services online.


Almost half of the businesses without a website don’t intend to create one in the future, while 26% don’t believe a website would benefit their business at all.


Alarmingly, 47% of the businesses surveyed don’t feel threatened by the growth in global online commerce.


MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says the findings indicate there is still a large number of business owners who are not yet convinced of the benefits of getting online.


“Even if they are convinced, a large number don’t intend to act on that knowledge… I’m concerned for Australia’s future international competitiveness if business owners don’t do more to embrace the online economy,” Reed says.


“If your business can’t be found via a search engine, it’s as if you don’t exist.”


According to the report, one of the biggest challenges for businesses getting online is having the skills and knowledge to make the shift.


The report reveals one in three businesses believe they are behind the times in using the internet for business, while 35% believe they don’t use the internet well enough for marketing and 31% believe they don’t use online search engines well enough to market their business.


Reed says despite the challenges associated with eCommerce, it is concerning to see so many businesses failing to acknowledge – or act on – the threat posed by international competitors online.


“The longer businesses avoid the reality of the digital economy, the greater the likelihood that they will condemn themselves to lower revenue growth or even revenue decline,” he says.


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