Decline in SME online activity: MYOB

Companies back away from using online tools to conduct business

Australian SMEs are shying away from using social media, online marketing and electronic commerce tools to conduct business, according to MYOB’s July 2012 Business Monitor survey.

MYOB spoke to 1004 SMEs and found that social media activity such as connecting with customers using tools such as Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn had dropped from 21 per cent to 16 per cent since March 2012.

There was a drop in online activity across the board with 37 per cent of respondents paying bills on suppliers’ websites (44 per cent in March) and 24 per cent buying products and services online (down from 37 per cent).

Furthermore, 24 per cent were using search engines to promote their businesses (down from 31 per cent) and 29 per cent were accepting online payments from customers (down from 25 per cent).

“The decline in popularity of online business activities was completely unexpected, particularly that of online marketing and social media,” MYOB CEO Tim Reed said in a prepared statement.

"Many of these tools, such as a basic LinkedIn page, are free and can be used to raise the profile of a business and to communicate with customers.

“We also found that more business operators are experiencing revenue falls than are experiencing rises, and the majority lack confidence in a short term recovery," he added. "I suspect this has seen many shy away from online activities as they focus on the health of their business, whereas embracing them could reap productivity benefits.”

SMEs with a website were also more likely to see their revenue increase in the past 12 months – 23 per cent compared to 15 per cent without one. They also tended to have more sales in the pipeline (34 per cent versus 26 per cent).

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