The .ie Domain Registry (IEDR) – the body which manages the attribution of the .ie domain name – conducts regular surveys on the current state of the Irish digital landscape. The Digital Health Index for instance “measures the health of Irish SMEs’ digital presence by analysing the number of digital assets (like websites, apps and social media accounts) owned by them, and their perceived quality.”
The 2017 Digital Health Index published last March revealed contrasting facts.
- 67% of SMEs have an online presence
- 50% of SMEs have a Facebook page
- Only 13% of SMEs have a sales-enabled (e-commerce) website
At the same time, one in five SMEs still has no online presence (website or social media page). The main reasons quoted by SMEs for not having active websites are “no need in our industry” (68%), “lack of time” (20%), “lack of expertise” (5%) or “lack of finance”.
The rise of online shopping
These figures must be correlated with several reports concerning the rapidly changing habits of Irish shoppers who are increasingly taking their business online. A recent Bank of Ireland survey quoted by the Irish Times states that the “Irish people spent approximately €9 billion online in 2016, with the spending set to grow to €14 billion by 2021”. The average Irish shopper spends over two hours a week browsing websites and online shops.
In other words, if a business has little or no online presence, it is more than likely missing out on potential clicks, leads or sales or even visits to its premises.
The importance of having a website
Another very interesting market research conducted by Ignite Research on behalf of the IEDR and published last April further emphasised the importance of having a website by highlighting its perceived value.
500 Irish SMEs were asked if they had a website and, if yes, how important it was for generating revenue for their business. The research indicated that SMEs with a website gain an additional 22 jobs or sales a year, worth €24,000 on average.
The same survey asked “1,000 Irish consumers about their online behaviour and what they look for in a company’s online presence”.
- 80% of Irish consumers go online when looking for information about a business
- 83% believe that their local businesses should at least have a basic website
- 7 out of 10 people are more likely to purchase from a business with a website
- 60% said that they would shop online with a competitor for the same product if their local business is not online.