YORKSHIRE firms are missing out on big business opportunities by failing to make best use of the internet, it is claimed.
A survey by Lloyds Banking Group showed that more than a third of small and medium-sized businesses in the north are not online – and risk stunting their future growth as a result – despite evidence of marked improvements in business productivity when SMEs become digitally literate.
Business benefits include saving time, increased sales and wider customer reach when the internet is used for day-to-day business interactions.
Lloyds Banking Group is a founder member of Go ON UK – an initiative which aims to make the UK the most digitally capable nation. The survey coincides with the launch of the Go ON’s new Digital Skills Charter.
The survey showed that 37% of SMEs in the UK still do not have a website and one in five are “deliberately disconnected” from the internet. The research shows that 30% of SMEs are not developing their use of the internet in any way.
Just over a quarter of SMEs have an advanced website, including mobile applications, to help serve their customers and employees. These businesses are aware of the commercial benefits of having a strong digital presence.
Among businesses that improve their digital use, 78% said it saved time while 62% said it attracted customers through effective marketing. Some 54% reported improved levels of customer interaction and service and wider geographic coverage while 54% saw cost savings, 51% reported increased sales and 36% enjoyed simplified payment processing.
Martyn Kendrick, area director for Lloyds TSB Commercial in Yorkshire, said: “There is no avoiding the fact that the internet is part of everyday life and is an essential ingredient of business growth.
“This research shows that many SMEs are still not embracing digital technology, often because they don’t believe there are benefits to be had.
“But it is clear that when businesses do go digital, the rewards come quickly.”