Small businesses are foregoing having an online presence altogether as new research reveals that three quarters in the UK lack a website

Too many small businesses are missing a digital shop window, according to UENI (Credit: Pixabay)

Too many small businesses are missing a digital shop window, according to UENI (Credit: Pixabay)

A new survey has revealed that 75% of Britain’s small businesses don’t have a website, with an even larger number of US bricks-and-mortar companies opting to go without an online presence.

The study from London-based tech company UENI surveyed more than 5,000 businesses from across the UK and US.

Of the 1,929 small businesses in the UK, 14% didn’t know what a domain name was.

For small businesses across the pond, 80% didn’t have their own website and 16% were confounded by the phrase “domain name”.

Christine Telyan, CEO of UENI, which helps businesses build their online presence, said: “We know from working with small businesses the many demands business owners face day-to-day.

small business website
Christine Telyan, CEO of UENI of London, at her offices in Hammersmith

“For most one or two-person companies, a website is understandably not at the top of the list of priorities.

“However, when you look at how people search for local businesses, the first port of call is usually a search engine like Google and if local businesses don’t appear, they’re lacking that shop window and missing out on valuable customers.”


Small businesses missing out on custom from lack of website

According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, the percentage of retail sales made online has steadily increased since 2006.

Internet sales currently account for 18% of total retail sales, rising from 2.8% over the thirteen-year period.

US retail also passed a major milestone in April this year, when the Department for Commerce confirmed that the total market share for online retail sales surpassed general merchandise sales for the first time.

This figure is likely to rise, with millennial consumers making 60% of their purchases online.

The ability to quickly compare prices and check online reviews were two of the most frequently-cited reasons for choosing to shop on the web rather than in-store, and UENI also found that 86% of customers chose to consult a search engine before making a purchase.

Telyan added: “Having a domain is the starting point to gaining online visibility, but one in seven of the small business owners we asked didn’t know what the term ‘domain name’ meant.

“For British small businesses to compete, owners need a basic level of online literacy and understanding of the internet.

“Having said that, what many small businesses don’t realise is that technology is making it far easier to have an online presence.

“These days, businesses can even achieve visibility in Google in a matter of minutes, given the right tools.”


Amazon and McKinsey look to preserve bricks-and-mortar

While the current difficulties facing high-street retailers has been well documented, a number of tech companies have moved to try and preserve bricks-and-mortar trading.

clicks and mortar, small business website
The first Clicks and Mortar store in Manchester (Credit: Enterprise Nation)

Amazon – the largest online retailer in the world – set up a “Clicks and Mortar” campaign to support independent outlets from its websites and make the transition to physical stores.

The e-commerce giant aims to help 100 small online brands in the UK move into pop-up stores and reach customers on the high street for the first time.

Over in the US, consultancy firm McKinsey hopes that high-tech stores could provide the answer to rejuvenating the country’s ailing shopping malls.

Shoppers visiting the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minnesota, could expect to “virtually” try on items through the use of augmented reality, put products in a “virtual shopping basket” with a single tap and allow software to select their perfect fit.