Government to help SMEs grab £193B of online sales currently being missed

Figures actually show that as many as 2 million sole traders and small companies are missing out on business because they have no online presence.

In addition, over half of customers go straight to search engines when looking to buy from local businesses, nearly double the number that ask for word-of-mouth recommendations.

With total website sales in the UK worth £193 billion, small businesses and sole traders could be missing out without a digital presence.

Measures to help businesses become more digitally active include: £2 million of funding to 22 Local Enterprise Partnerships to help small local businesses increase their digital presence. Projects include the development of a digital TV channel in Manchester which provides easily-accessible and cost-effective advice to businesses, supported by events, advice and networking sessions.

Business and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Thousands of potential customers are searching online for local small businesses and without an online profile businesses will lose out.”

“To make sure consumers get the best deal and small businesses spread their nets far and wide, the Government is investing in expert advice to help them do more online. I am committed to making the UK the best place in the world to start up and grow, and this is integral to achieving that”.

Government Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Simon Devonshire, said: “British Businesses should consider having a presence online as more important than having an office landline telephone number. Online is the new landline. A landline number used to be a mark of authenticity for businesses. The move to a digital economy has meant consumers are more likely to trust a business with a website and consider a business more credible if they offer the ability to transact seamlessly online.

“Government research suggests that nearly two million UK Businesses are not online, and of those that do have an online presence; over two thirds are not transactional. I cannot think of a business to whom being online is not now vital to their trade, irrespective of their ambition to grow. I think those businesses that embrace the digital opportunity are improving their opportunity to reduce costs; to scale-up; and possibly even export – giving a further boost to the UK economy.”

CEO of digital skills charity Go ON UK, Rachel Neaman, said: “31 per cent of small businesses in the UK lack Basic Digital Skills, making them less competitive than many of their peers. The UK is embracing technology more and more with new jobs and new businesses being ‘born on the web’; yet just half of small businesses and charities have a website.

“Go ON UK welcomes the Government’s investment in addressing the digital skills gap for small businesses. We are delighted to support the Business is Great initiative by partnering with BIS to enable small businesses and sole traders across the UK to realise the impact that developing Basic Digital Skills can have on their business prospects.”

To find out more about how businesses can do more online visit

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