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.