By Daniel Hunter

Small businesses in the UK that aren’t embracing the digital world are collectively losing out on billions of pounds of missed sales opportunities each year, a new report by O2 Business revealed.

O2 Business believes that in order to grow, businesses must invest in the relevant digital technology to reach their customers, which is supported by the ‘Shining a Light’ report which surveyed 2,000 customers across the UK.

The research found that many small businesses are missing out on growth by not keeping up with their ‘digitally savvy’ customers, who increasingly rely on modern technology, social media and internet search engines to research and interact with local businesses, regardless of size.

A quarter of those surveyed by O2 Business said they would not use a small business if they discovered it didn’t have a website. The impact of this consumer reaction is collectively costing small businesses in the UK a whopping £13billion in missed sales.

After recommendations from friends and family, using the internet is the second most common way customers research and select the small businesses they use. It’s also twice as popular as looking at classifieds or using business directories.

The ‘Shining a Light’ report also revealed that being online is not just important for small businesses to be ‘seen’ by customers, but also plays a huge part in how they are perceived too. Nearly two thirds (63%) considered small businesses that have a web and social media presence as modern and up-to-date and nearly half (46%) felt they were customer focused.

When it comes to the technology that customers expect a small business to have invested in, 63% feel they should at least have a basic website where they can view their goods or services. Nearly a third (30%) expect small firms to have a website that’s actually transactional and one in ten (12%) expect them to have an updated Facebook page they can engage in.

“The rewards from investing in technology can be huge, but for many business owners the whole process of improving their business through technology can be a daunting prospect," Paul Lawton, General Manager of SMB at O2, said.

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