The role of technology is ubiquitous in modern business, and the Sensis e-Business Report 2015: The Online Experience of Small and Medium Enterprises has revealed that 84 per cent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) surveyed are connected to the internet.
The report further showed that 60 per cent of SMEs made purchases online, while 30 per cent indicated they place a majority of their business orders online and those receiving payments online was 51 per cent.
The study suggests SMEs are beginning to embrace the internet more to sell. The study indicated that there is an expected growth of 6 per cent for taking and placing orders for products and services online according to SMEs who use the internet.
eCommerce on the rise
The Sensis report also found that 87 per cent of SMEs with internet access have broadband Internet access, mostly in the form of ADSL. This has been underscored by the federal government, with ACMA claiming that up to 95 per cent of SMEs use broadband, “demonstrating a growing reliance on the internet as a channel for e-commerce.”
Founder and owner of digital marketing company Search & Be Found, Ian Jacob, said that without wireless connectivity, his life would be much harder – a fact highlighted by the report’s finding that 44 per cent of businesses use wireless connectivity.
“I do a lot of my work on the go, so having the ability to process payments and talk to my staff globally using wireless connectivity is a real necessity.”
“It not only saves my time as I don’t have to go back to the office to log into my laptop, it also helps with my monthly cash flow as I can make and receive payments anywhere and anytime.”
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The Sensis report highlighted another area seeing growth in SME adoption – social media. Some 31 per cent of SMEs have a social media presence, and while most are yet to develop a strategic plan for this side of their business, those using social media reported higher confidence in their prospects and increased sales, profitability and employment. Figures that underscore the importance of online marketing that complements the eCommerce strategy.
The most popular social media platform was found to be Facebook – a staggering 94 per cent of small firms and 89 per cent of medium sized firms surveyed used Facebook as their preferred social media platform.
But with small businesses spending $1,900 a year on average on social media sites, this is one part of the digital world that has yet to reach a critical mass.
So while other technologies like online video and platforms like Instagram have not yet made large-scale disruptions to Australian SME’s, the findings of the Sensis report show that technology has now moved from being a business process automator to a bottom line enhancer, all in the short space of a decade or so.