SMEs missing out on £21bn Christmas bonus due to lack of digital knowledge

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· Lack of digital skills resulted up to £21bn in lost revenue for Britain’s SME’s last Christmas
· Only half (48%) of smaller businesses are mobile friendly in run up to ‘first mobile Christmas’
· 123 Reg helping small businesses improve e-retail offering in run up to Christmas

26th September (London): UK SMEs lost £21 billion of revenue last year due to a lack of digital skills, research has shown. Just over a quarter (28%) of consumers were more likely to buy gifts from large retailers than smaller businesses last year due to an easier online shopping experience. In a year where UK consumers spent a record £76 billion during the festive season, up over 2% from the previous year, the draw to bigger traders resulted in SMEs passing up on around £21 billion of this revenue.

There is a clear need for SMEs, who make up almost half of the UK economy, to improve their e-commerce offering in order to be on a level playing field with the bigger retailers in the run up to the festive season.

Research commissioned by 123 Reg highlights that 40% of small businesses, and nearly half (48%) of micro-business owners feel they lack the digital skills needed to market their enterprises. Almost half (47%) also do not have mobile-friendly services, which puts them at a considerable disadvantage seeing as 87% of purchases last year were influenced by online and mobile channels, and 2016 is forecast to be the most mobile Christmas to date.

One thing bigger retailers do well is tailoring their websites for the festive season, which can help boost footfall and sales, According to previous 123 Reg research, it has been proven that this can increase purchase intention by up to 39%.

But it’s not just larger retailers who can use this method. There are simple tools available to help small businesses do this too, in just one click. One example of a speedy way to tailor websites in a consumer friendly way is 123 Reg’s ‘seasonal promotion’ function, where business owners can simply click on a button and put a seasonal offer live on their site: savings weeks of time and cost to redesign.
One business that has seen the advantages of using such seasonal personalisation tools is The Guitar Hut, founded by Luke Turner, who used 123 Reg’s in-sites tool:

“Having a website is crucial to the success of The Guitar Hut. When I first set up the business we were selling one guitar a month, whereas now, we are selling more than 10. Every professional businesses needs a website, you can’t just reply on social media alone.

“More people are buying guitar based products online. As the increases, we have found a really great way, through 123 Reg, to increase traffic and sales on our website. The in-sites personalisation feature has allowed us to create seasonal offers to new and returning visitors and also target those who may have left the order process with an offer. This is all at a click of a button and has led to constant increases in traffic. By applying these features, the awareness off The Guitar Hut has grown.”

Nick Leech, Digital Director at 123 Reg, said:

“The digital skills shortage amongst small businesses harms their performance and stunts their ability to grow. It is particularly important to get it right as we approach the busiest retail period of the year. Small businesses should not be overlooked during the holiday season. They can offer consumers a diverse range of quality items that can be bought as gifts, something a little different to the bigger retailers.

“At 123 Reg we are continuing to invest heavily to ensure business owners have the skills they need to be able to contend with the bigger players who have dominated the festive season in the past number of years.”

123 Reg have recently launched an Online Business Training platform tailored for micro businesses to learn key skills in bite sized chunks to help them improve their digital knowledge. Additionally, their Digital Skills Assessment tool, which acts as an information-sharing community platform for micro-business, can provide them with insights on how others within their professions have used digital to help them grow.

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