Drawing on findings within the Sensis Business Index – an ongoing series of surveys measuring overall confidence and behaviour of Australian SMBs – the Sensis eBusiness Report 2015 provides a unique insight into trends that defined the past year and are sure to carry weight in the future.
Here are four key findings that might provide motivation when it comes to developing your strategies during 2016:
1. Upgrade your website in line with Google’s algorithm changes
Over one-third of businesses have optimised their websites for mobile, with a further 28% planning to do so in the next year, according to the report. The findings follow changes to the Google search algorithm in April 2015, which give prominence to websites designed for viewing on smartphones and tablets.
One of the best ways to prepare is to test whether Google views your web pages as being mobile-friendly by using its Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
SMBs use their website to support an enormous range of purposes. Approximately nine in 10 reported that they inserted the company history and product descriptions on their websites, as well as email enquiry forms, product pictures, company news, video and special offers.
2. Ensure you and your team are social-media savvy
The Sensis eBusiness Report underlines another area seeing growth in SMB adoption: social media. Some 31% of SMBs have a social media presence, and while most are yet to adopt a specific strategy (only 19% of small firms and 39% of medium firms have a social strategy), those using it reported higher confidence in their prospects and increased sales, profitability and employment.
3. Make moves to optimise your website for mobile
Just over one-third of SMBs owning a website (35%) have had it optimised for mobile devices, and there is virtually no difference between small and medium firms in this incidence.
The report found that website optimisation is most common in the health and community services sector (57%) and below average in manufacturing (24%), building and construction (24%), and transport and storage (26%).
Just over a quarter of SMBs whose website is not optimised for mobile devices intend to make that happen in the next year with small and medium firms similar in this intention.
4. eCommerce stores should take note of who dominates online spending
Men are spending more than twice as much as women online with a preference for purchasing electronics and video games. Women prefer buying cosmetics, groceries and books, according to the report.
Men spent $6500 online in 2015, which was 2.7 times as much as women, who spent on average $2400 last year.
In addition, the report found 51% of Australian SMBs are selling online, with 66% of those making the majority of sales to customers in their local area. But while Australia is home to a strong eCommerce scene, the report found 21% of online consumers are purchasing overseas, exacerbating the competition home-grown retailers face from international companies.