Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  12 Jan 2012

WEB PRESENCE: Small Businesses Recognise the Value Of a Website


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As more and more consumers start their search for products and services on the Internet, and with more companies moving online and reaping the benefit of their web presence, savvy South African SMEs and small businesses are taking the importance of an online presence to heart.

That’s according to Arthur Goldstuck, principal researcher of the annual SME Survey, a unique study which assesses the competitiveness of this sector of the South African economy.

“Interim results show that nearly two thirds of all registered SMEs – 65%– have their own websites, a massive increase since 2008 when just 45% were online presence,” he says.

Website Presence for Small Businesses

Those in business for ten years or longer are far more likely (72%) to have websites than relatively new businesses. Of those operating for less than three years, just 46% are online. “While one might suggest that a website is something of a necessity which is being overlooked by the start-up, the research does indicate that nearly one in every two start-ups either have a website when they launch or soon after,” Goldstuck notes.

He says another essential finding emerging from this year’s research is a clear correlation between competitiveness and having a website. “68% of SMEs with a website regard themselves as generally competitive, with 45% regarding themselves as highly competitive. For those without a website, these figures are 59% and 38%.”

The Differences for Various Small Businesses in Website Presence

Differences are to be expected for various industry sectors; the majority of SMEs operating in the IT and telecoms sectors have websites (89%). Similarly, a high number (76%) of those in the tourism and transportation sector have websites. Meanwhile, less than half (44%) in the financial services sector have any kind of online presence. “SMEs in some vertical markets can be stuck in traditional ways of thinking. For example, those with a largely recurring customer base, such as auditing and accounting companies, may not yet see the value of a website,” Goldstuck adds.

However, with the proliferation of smartphones, the number of people using the Internet can only increase. That carries with it an implication that unless your company is online, it may be left out in the cold. “Additionally, given the competition which broadly typifies the SME sector, it may be necessary to consider that a growing base of savvy online South Africans is emerging. As these consumers enjoy more affordable and accessible Internet access, so too will the necessity for an online presence for small businesses as a necessary component of a competitive business emerge,” Goldstuck concludes.

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