The research from the 2015 Sensis e-Business Report follows changes to the Google search algorithm in April that give priority to websites designed for viewing on mobiles and tablets.
“Forty six percent of businesses think it is important to be on page one of a Google search. Therefore it’s no wonder with the new Google algorithm in place so many SMBs are planning to optimise their sites in the year ahead,” said Sensis Commercial Director, Rob Tolliday.
“On average 21% of consumers’ online purchases are coming from overseas, highlighting the growing problem many Australian retailers face from overseas competition,” he said.
The 2015 Sensis e-Business Report of 1,000 Australian small and medium businesses and 800 Australian consumers found 56% of SMBs have a website, with another 6% intending to build one this year.
“Not only are Australian stores having to compete with local online retailers, they are now also competing heavily with overseas players such as ASOS and Amazon who are trying to undercut them,” said Mr Tolliday.
“Search engine optimisation has become a crucial tool for SMBs, now used by 41% of those online. The changes from Google represent an opportunity for small businesses to get ahead in the rankings, perhaps even overtaking larger organisations who can take longer to overhaul their sites,” he said.
Only six percent of SMBs have developed an “app”, but 9% intend on creating one this year.
“While businesses are investing into their digital assets such as websites, only 17% currently have a digital business strategy raising concerns about whether their dollars are being spent in the right places,” said Mr Tolliday.
The report also examined e-commerce usage among SMBs finding online sales, as a share of total sales, have increased from 32% to 41% over the past three years.
“Forty three percent of SMBs are currently selling online with another 6% of businesses intending to do so this year,” said Mr Tolliday.
“But while SMBs are increasingly selling online many remain anxious, with 72% of businesses identifying hacking as a concern of using e-commerce.”
The report found 66% of businesses make the majority of sales to customers in their local area.
“While local sales dominate, 27% of Australian SMBs are now selling to overseas customers. You might expect the falling Australian dollar will see more businesses start to sell their products globally,” he said.
The report also found 61% of consumers had made purchases online in the past year, spending on average $4,400.
“Men dominated online, spending more than twice as much as women for the year and buying more video games and take-away food, whereas women purchased more groceries and cosmetics,” said Mr Tolliday.