As the financial year comes to a close, today the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its latest research about how Australian businesses connect with the Internet. The results are encouraging: Australian businesses received online orders worth $189 billion in the twelve months to 2010-11 which represents a 32% increase from the year before. At the same time, it’s clear that many small business owners have yet to fully embrace the web: only one third of businesses with four employees or less have a web presence.
With more and more Australian consumers moving online, it’s more important than ever to establish an online presence, especially for small businesses: 1 in 5 Google web searches are local in nature, and on mobile devices like Android smartphones this number increases to 1 in 3. On any given day Google receives more searches for [pizza] than for [Lady Gaga]. On weekends the difference is even more pronounced: Australians search up to ten times more often for the Italian fast food than for the popular US singer.
Claire Hatton, Head of Local Business, Google Australia, says: “Whether you’re a pizza restaurant or the newsagent around the corner, it’s never been more important to be online. For the next financial year the priority for every Australian business owner has to be get online and make sure that your customers can find you, quickly and from any device.”
Getting online doesn’t 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–and to open a second retail outlet as well. Dean says: “Thanks to the Internet we grew massively over the last years. The business is going so well that we could even open up 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 wouldn’t exist anymore.”
Business owners who don’t know how to start 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–within a single click.
Hatton explains: “When we are out and about and we need to find the closest florists or locksmith we use our smartphone to find those businesses. 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 your competitor who’s made the move online already.”
Business owners can find more information and sign-up for their free website at www.gettingbusinessonline.com.au.