High street businesses still missing the mark on online services

3rd December 2015

A new study of small businesses found that only 13% offer the three online services most demanded by consumers: click and collect, online payments and the ability to browse products. The research, commissioned by Nominet – the internet company best known for running the .UK internet infrastructure – to mark Small Business Saturday, shows that many SMEs remain out-of-date when it comes to meeting modern customer expectations. Other key findings include:

  • Over a quarter (26%) of small businesses still don’t have a basic website with contact details and opening times, while six in ten do not have a Facebook page
  • This is despite more than a quarter of consumers (28%) thinking that businesses without a web presence are outdated or can’t keep up with the times
  • More than half (51%) of SMEs realise their reputation would be tarnished if they weren’t online, while 53% admit they won’t be able to compete with larger organisations in the future without an online presence

This is in sharp contrast to a Nominet consumer poll conducted to mark Small Business Saturday last year, which found that ‘click and collect’ services, online purchases and the ability to browse or research products were all wanted by over a third of consumers, and would encourage them to shop locally. Yet the vast majority of small businesses still don’t offer all three of these services. The top reasons for not doing so are a perception that it isn’t relevant to their business, thinking that customers don’t want them, and that they lack the necessary skills to implement them.

Some businesses recognise the importance of being online, with 51% believing they would lose customers to competitors who maintain an online presence. The need to do better is also clear, as only 55% of respondents think they are meeting their customers’ online expectations.

Russell Haworth, CEO, Nominet, says: “This Small Business Saturday, we urge small high street businesses all over the UK to ensure they are up to date with the changing expectations of their customers. If a business doesn’t have a strong online presence – something which is now clearly expected of them – then customers may choose to shop elsewhere. While high street businesses can’t all expect to become the next online retail giant, having a basic landing page with opening hours, contact details and a list of stock, services and prices, should be seen as an essential marketing tool to get customers through the door.”

Bianca Miller, business owner, entrepreneur, The Apprentice 2014 Runner-up and brand ambassador for .uk said:  “This research reaffirms the importance of small businesses having an online presence that reflects their brand identity and helps potential customers find what they need. In today’s competitive world, where we’re conducting more and more of our everyday lives over the web, extending your brand online is key to gaining customer trust and therefore boosting revenues. Expectations are changing so fast, and if you’re not online you might miss out.”


Research Methodology

Opinium Research carried out an online survey on 202 small business decision makers from 25th– 28th November 2015.

The 2014 research was also carried out by Opinium Research, which carried out an online survey of 2,021 UK adults aged 18+ from 14th to 19th November 2014.