62 per cent of Aussies will stop considering a business if it doesn’t have an online presence, while only half of small businesses have a website according to a new study by Telstra.

The figures are contained in the 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report which is based on two parallel surveys of 1,000 small businesses and 1,000 consumers. The research highlights a disconnect between consumer expectations and the digital services offered by small businesses.

Telstra Executive Director, Small Business, Brendan Donohoe said the evidence showed small businesses were missing critical opportunities to meet the wants and needs of the contemporary consumer.

“Our report shows small businesses are trying to meet customer expectations but are at times falling short, often acting on ‘gut feel’ or relying on traditional ways of doing business.”

Donohoe said while digital technology was a key opportunity for Australia’s small businesses to be more competitive and find more customers, change was required.

“Where we see a real opportunity for some small businesses is being open to change, safely putting a toe in the water with digital technology and in return, delivering a great experience for customers.”

The report’s key insights include:

  • 76 per cent of business owners consider ‘word of mouth’ (referral from others) to be the most significant driver of new sales, but for 71 per cent of consumers, it comes behind online search and online reviews.
  • A mere 36 per cent of sole traders have a website when 89 per cent of customers say they want a website that’s easy to navigate and 48 per cent of customers say they will stop considering a business if it doesn’t have one at all.
  • A third of ecommerce businesses (63 per cent) do not have a mobile-friendly website, while one in two (48 per cent) of customers are shopping on a mobile device at least once per week.
  • A rewards program is important for more than one third (39 per cent) of customers, but only a minuscule 14 per cent small businesses offer one.
  • Three times as many customers want to communicate via online chat than businesses that offer it (28 per cent versus 9 per cent). Three quarters (74 per cent) of small businesses like to communicate face-to-face but this is the preference for only 33 per cent of customers.
  • Half (54 per cent) of businesses expect on-demand delivery as part of the ecommerce experience in the near future, but the vast majority (76 per cent) of businesses have no intent to use this technology.
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