Report reveals that UK SMBs are failing to invest in social media, potentially hurting sales over the vital Christmas period.
UK SMBs could be missing out on their slice of the £13.4bn pie estimated to be spent online in the UK during the upcoming holiday season, analysts suggest.
According to research by Epson, nearly one in three small businesses in the UK are hesitant to embrace e-commerce channels and view it as threatening. Only 59% see it as a business opportunity compared with 72% across Europe.
The UK Government is even offering a series of free e-commerce schemes to promote better understanding of the web for more than 3,500 businesses from January to March next year. This is part of its launch of Web Fuelled Business Initiative Seminars.
The senior policy adviser from the Forum of Private Business, Phil McCabe, said, "Perhaps it’s a question of something that’s new and changing the media landscape, which in certain circles brings a degree of fear."
Small business owners of course will be looking to be sure that they get a good return on investment in social media. "It may not be good for all firms in a marketing and customer relations sense, but research shows that for a number of businesses this is or could be a useful medium to get their message out there if they have the right education and tools to use it properly," McCabe said.
As social media is still emerging and quite new, business owners who do have an online presence may still doubt the effectiveness of their online standing.
The Founder of Confused.com, Sara Murray, claims that understanding how to use social media and ecommerce as a tool could be positive for businesses: "It is concerning that so many still regard the area as a threat. In the midst of this busy shopping period, understanding how to harness social media, combined with the increasing popularity of e-commerce, should offer micro businesses an avenue for growth which they can’t afford to ignore."
The managing director of Epson UK, Chris Price, agrees that businesses need to focus on online and social media involvement to tap into potential increases in sales. "Growth among small businesses is vital for the UK economy so it is important we encourage more small businesses to embrace the potential of online sales opportunities," he said.