The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its latest findings into how Australian businesses connect with the internet.
The trend is encouraging, with businesses receiving online orders worth A$189 billion in the 12 months to 2010-11. This represents a 32 per cent increase from the year before. However, at the same time it is clear that many small businesses have yet to embrace the web, with just one-third of enterprises with four employees or less having an online presence.
With more and more Australian consumers moving online, it has become more important than ever to establish an online presence, especially for small businesses. One in five Google web searches is local in nature, and on mobile devices like Android smartphones this number increases to one in three. Indeed, on any given day Google receives more searches for pizza than for pop icon Lady Gaga. On weekends, the difference is even more pronounced, with Australians searching up to 10 times more often for the Italian fast food than for the US singer.
“Whether you’re a pizza restaurant or the newsagent around the corner, it’s never been more important to be online,” emphasises Google Australia head of local business, Claire Hatton. “For the next financial year the priority for every Australian business owner has to be getting online to make sure that your customers can find you, quickly and from any device.”
It's never been more important to be online. Claire Hatton, Google Australia
However, getting online does not have to mean establishing a complicated e-commerce system: an online presence can help your offline presence, too. For example, Sydney-based retailer Dean Salakas managed to transform his small family business, The Party People, into Australia’s leading online retailer for party supplies, as well as to open a second retail outlet.
“Thanks to the internet we grew massively over the last year,” Salakas says. “Because the business is going so well, we were even able to open a new store in Drummoyne recently. We now own two stores in Sydney and a flourishing online business, employing 29 people. Without the internet our business would not exist anymore.”
Business owners who don’t know how to begin making the leap online can get started with “Getting Aussie Business Online”, a joint initiative from MYOB and Google that lets any business create its own website within 15 minutes. Websites are also optimised for smartphones, providing potential customers with the most crucial information business location, phone number and opening hours via a single click.
“When we are out and about and we need to find the closest florists or locksmiths we use our smartphones to find those businesses,” Hatton says. “If you own a business and you don’t have a mobile-optimised website you are invisible to a large number of clients who will just go to a competitor who’s already made the move to online.”
Over the last 12 months the collaboration between Google and Myob has seen more than 30,000 Australian businesses sign up to establish an online presence. Business owners can find more information about setting up a free website by visiting www.gettingbusinessonline.com.au.