91% of Irish SME websites cannot process sales

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on April 19th, 2015

– IEDR research finds majority of Irish SMEs not ‘e-commerce enabled’- 
– IEDR’s OPTIMISE Fund 2015 launched to help SMEs be e-commerce ready –

91% of Irish SME websites cannot process sales online, according to new research published today.

The initial findings of research commissioned by IEDR, the company which manages Ireland’s .ie domain registry, finds that the vast majority of Irish businesses are not equipped to take and process consumer sales online.

The research comes as IEDR today, 20 April 2015, launched its OPTIMISE Fund 2015, which supports Irish SMEs and Micro-Enterprises in enhancing their existing online presence and in becoming e-commerce enabled.

The IEDR research surveyed 501 Irish SMEs to examine their online presence, including their e-commerce capabilities. The research found that the majority of Irish SMEs’ websites are not e-commerce enabled, hindering businesses capacity to sell online to their customers.

Key findings include:

While 63% of Irish SMEs have a website
o 91% cannot process sales online
o 62% cannot (in the first instance) take sales orders online;
o 68% cannot process payments online
o 51% don’t have the ability to interact directly with customers through social media or web chat;
o 54% don’t have responsive website designs for tablet or smartphone;
o 66% don’t have video content on their website;
and only 4% have the capacity to run analytics on their website performance.

Commenting on the research, David Curtin, Chief Executive of IEDR, said:
“What stands out most is the mismatch between business owners’ acknowledgement of what’s important and their actions. Business owners know it’s important, but they haven’t (yet) acted to sell online, with 73% saying their website is “important/very important” as a driver of generating sales, yet 62% cannot take sales orders via that website”.

“In an ever more global economy, the absence of an online sales presence puts Irish businesses at a huge disadvantage to competitors. It acts as a major disincentive to attracting customers, for whom buying online is now the norm”, added Curtin.

Now in its fifth year, the aim of the OPTIMISE Fund is to encourage and enable Irish SMEs or micro enterprises to make greater use of existing web technologies and upgrade the e-commerce functionality of their websites.

The Fund is designed to help drive Irish businesses’ sales offering online. Since its’ inception in 2011, the OPTIMISE Fund has provided funding to 60 Irish SMEs and micro enterprises to improve their web and online sales capabilities. With the OPTIMISE Fund 2015 valued at €150,000, IEDR is confident that demand for funding amongst the business community will be significant again this year.

Commenting on the OPTIMISE Fund, Mr. Curtin said:
“The OPTIMISE Fund provides training and services to small businesses to help them to enhance their online presence, particularly their online sales capability. Our research has consistently shown that Ireland’s small businesses often struggle to develop an online sales presence to tap into new revenue streams and ultimately, to grow their business. The OPTIMISE Fund works shoulder to shoulder with businesses and seeks to give a helping hand to businesses to make the leap from digital trailers to digital blazers, who are savvy, successful online entrepreneurs.”

Francis Brennan, owner of The Park Hotel, Kenmare and Ambassador for the OPTIMISE Fund 2015, noted that “online sales are critical to our hotel business. They are now a significant and growing part of most successful Irish businesses’ sales strategy. While having a website is an important shop window for every business, its’ not enough if your customers can’t use it to buy your goods and services online. Today’s survey results clearly show small Irish businesses are falling short when it comes to selling online. Such businesses risk losing out on huge opportunities for growth, unless they improve their online offering.”

Businesses who want to improve their online sales capabilities and optimise their websites are encouraged to apply to the OPTIMISE Fund 2015 by logging on to www.iedr.ie/optimise for further information.

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