Aug 142012
disgruntled customers, staff and partners are bad for business

Every quarter accounting company MYOB releases its Business Monitor surveying the SME sector’s confidence and how they are using technology along, usually these show more businesses moving into e-commerce, setting up websites and adopting social media.

The July 2012 monitor (PDF File) is unusual as it shows a decline in various online business activities, the main areas that slumped were the following;

  • Paying bills on suppliers’ websites: fell from 44% of respondents to 37%
  • Buying products/services online: fell from 37% to 24%
  • Using internet search engines to promote their business: fell from 31% to 24%
  • Conducting email marketing to potential or existing customers: fell from 26% to 24%
  • Accepting online payments from customers: fell from 25% to 19%
  • Using any form of social media for business purposes: fell from 21% to 16%

All of these are a bit odd, particularly the first three, and it may be an errant group in the 1,000 businesses surveyed.

Of the others, email marketing’s fall isn’t surprising as businesses have been finding returns in this field falling for sometime with customers unlikely to open messages unless there is a compelling reason.

Social media isn’t surprising as there’s a feeling of fatigue among business owners confronted with a new hot platform every few months – increasingly it’s getting harder to become enthusiastic about Pinterest or Google+ when existing experiments in Facebook or LinkedIn haven’t really shown results.

Accepting online payments from customers declining really does indicate a hiccup with the surveyed group, with more online payment services than ever available to small business, it doesn’t make sense that this service is declining.

MYOB’s CEO Tim Reed puts the decline down to economic uncertainty saying, “We also found more business operators are experiencing revenue falls than are experiencing rises, and the majority lack confidence in a short term economic recovery. I suspect this has seen many shy away from online activities as they focus on the health of their business.”

If that is the case, then the small business community is in bigger trouble than we thought. Hopefully MYOBs result is just an errant survey result. We’ll be watching to see what the next index shows.

  2 Responses to “Are Aussie Businesses fleeing the online space?”

  1. The sad truth is the majority of small business owners are struggling in every way. Their customers have less money to spend, their payments for services are coming in slower, if at all and it is getting harder each month to be optimistic about our futures.
    The cash flow is being strangled and you are right, instead of continueing their marketing via email campaigns they are spending more time cutting their expenses in survival mode for the business.
    To take online payments via a website through a bank is not an easy or cheap exercise. To get a merchant gateway is not easy and even though there are more & more online business opening they are utilising paypal etc as an easier alternative than going through their banks and then hiring an IT/web person to install it. funds they probably don’t have.
    I could go on with examples but the honest truth why everything is down is the small business community is hurting.

  2. Thanks Paul
    We service this market and experienced a slowdown so glad its not just me!

    But we’ve found that SMEs hate uncertainty so will stop spending in the face of it. Given the timing, I suspect that uncertaintly around carbon tax has also contributed to the trend.

    Lets hope it picks up this quarter!

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