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Australian SMEs aren’t keeping up to the consumers transition into an online world, says Sensis

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While more and more Australians are using the internet to interact with brands and buy goods, most Australian small businesses lack a digital strategy, says the latest Sensis e-Business Report. Nevertheless, SMEs usage of the internet to sell goods has been slowly but steadily growing over the last years.

According to the 2011 Sensis e-Business Report, 67% of Australians are purchasing goods online, with 87% of Australians between the ages of 30 and 39 buying online and 80% of those between 20 and 29 doing the same.

Despite the impressive numbers, the report found that Australian SMEs are responding slowly and that, while most have an online presence with 67% having a website, 81% of them still lack a digital strategy.

“A range of digital activities have hit mainstream levels in Australia, with strong usage now seen beyond the youth market. However, the report shows less than one in five Australian small businesses have a formal digital strategy,” said Christena Singh, author of the report.

Most of the businesses with a digital strategy focus on internet and website strategy (90% and 89%) though there was a significant growth in mobile and social media strategies over the last 12 months.

Mobile strategy has grown from 36% in 2010 to 54% in 2011 and social media strategy implementation has grown from 33% to 53%.

“Over the last year, businesses have started to take a broader approach, and we have seen more businesses incorporate mobile and social media strategies into their digital  plan,” stated Christena Singh.

When asked “How long have you had a digital business strategy” almost one third of Australians SMEs answered “within the last year.”

Selling Online

The report also found that 59% of small businesses are using the internet to take orders and 71% to receive payments, which shows a 1% growth in the last 12 months and a 13% growth in the last five years.

“The rate of small businesses selling online is not mirroring the rate of consumers who are purchasing online. Two thirds of Australians said they make purchases online, with 40% increasing their online expenditure over the last 12 months,” said Christena Singh.

Social presence

The use of social networks among Australians is also very high, achieving 97% of those between the ages of 18 and 19 years old, 90% among those between 20 and 29 years old, and 82% among those between 30 and 39 years old. However, the report shows that only 18% of Australian SMEs have a social media presence.

The most used social media platform used by Australian businesses is, by far, Facebook (89%), followed by Twitter (33%) and LinkedIn (9%).

The report also found that Australian SMEs are divided about the impact that a social presence has on their business, with 51% saying that it has a positive impact and 48% that it has no impact at all.

Still, Australian SMEs social presence has grown by 8% in the last 12 months.

Mobile web

According to the report, half of the Australians are using their mobile phones to access the internet. Among those that do so, 67% have used it to look for information on products and services, 57% looked for suppliers, 24% ordered goods and services and 12% have bought or sold goods through an auction site.

Australians are using their mobile phones to browse the web at work (49%) and at home (38%), which shows that, according to Chirstena Singh, “mobile web has transformed beyond a transit medium, with Australians logging on  where they are also likely to have access to a computer.”

Photo by baddog_

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