Small Business Alert: 91% of Irish SMEs Cannot Process Sales Online

Back in October last year, the Irish Domain Registry (IEDR) reported that 91% of Irish SMEs cannot process sales online, while 54% do not have websites optimised for mobile use.

They also reported that 37% of Irish SMEs don’t have a website. Granted, the government have gone some way to address this by the introduction of The Online Trading Voucher in 2015 but there’s still a long way to go for us to catch up with the UK, the US and some of our European neighbours.

The European Commission reported that 31.5% of Irish SMEs are selling online but this figure only takes into account SMEs with over 10 employees. Mark Fielding from ISME points out that 90% of Irish businesses employ under 10 people.

So the vast majority of Irish businesses are not included in those EC figures. Of course there are a number of reasons why businesses are not embracing online and some of those are outside their control.

Why Are We Not Selling Online?

Factors such as lack of access to high speed internet are a real problem, with rural areas of Ireland missing out. Internet providers won’t invest where there is a small population. It’s not in their commercial interest to do so.

So that leaves it up to Government to make it happen. So what’s the problem, why are rural businesses still begging for what is a fundamental requirement of operating a modern business?

We don’t have the answers but something has got to change. Especially when you have The Department of Communications stating that small businesses experience a 21 per cent average increase in sales when they move their business online.

Other hindrances to businesses trading online are lack of technical ability, lack of funding and time shortage. All three need to be in place to make selling online successful.

We’d suggest that the “I’ll do it tomorrow” mentality is the real issue. Small business owners are so busy keeping the many business plates spinning it’s often difficult to adopt a new things.

One more plate to spin is often one too many, so it gets set as a low priority. The trouble with that is, business can enter a dry spell that could have been avoided with a little foresight and preparation.

Businesses must have the willingness to enter that growth curve where they can learn to make it happen. Often SME business owners tend to stick to what they know despite the apparent benefits to change.

A Fact That Can’t Be Ignored

Doing business online these days IS doing business, there is no longer a separation between online and offline so we don’t have a choice. We simply must embrace the technology if we are to compete with international sellers.

Irish businesses need to extract the finger when it comes to their online presence. Tech savvy kids are getting older, getting married, having children, buying houses etc etc and they expect online solutions.

Young people are turning into potential customers and they expect to access local goods and service online, so if Irish businesses do not present these younger buyers with an online solution then international businesses will.

Currently we are way behind the curve when it comes to doing business online and it doesn’t take too much to get started. The most important thing that business owners need in place is the will to make it happen.

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Joe Cunnane Practice Owner TRA Professional Services       Qualifications:  FCA Chartered Accountant & AITI Chartered Tax Advisor Joe has over 20 years experience working in both private practice and industry ... Read More »