SMEs with a website make an additional €24,000 a year compared to those without, new research from the IE Domain Registry (IEDR), the company that manages Ireland’s country domain name .ie, has revealed.

In a big boost for business, SMEs with a website receive an average of 22 additional jobs a year, with each worth an average of €1,089. Dublin-based SMEs receive the highest average number of additional jobs (41), followed by the rest of Leinster (16) and Munster (14). Connacht and Ulster receive the fewest (12).

The research, conducted by Ignite Research in March, also showed that nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of Irish shoppers are more likely to purchase goods and services from a business that has a website.

Despite this, only a little over half of consumers (51 percent) believe that their local shops and businesses are equipped for the digital age (i.e. have a basic website, have e-commerce capability). Indeed, three-quarters (74 percent) said they find it frustrating when a company has no website.

More key findings:

– Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of consumers want the ability to browse and research their local business’s products and services online
– 83 percent believe SMEs should have a basic website with contact details and opening hours
– 68 percent believe a business is ‘outdated’ if it doesn’t have a website
– 60 percent say they would shop with a competitor if they couldn’t find their preferred retailer online

Commenting on the findings, David Curtin, Chief Executive of IEDR, said: “For SMEs, having even a basic website is an integral part of doing business in the twenty-first century. The benefits are clear: SMEs with a website stand to receive more work and make more money than their offline counterparts. Being online means businesses can reach out to more customers, understand them better, sell more products and expand into new markets.

“The internet has shifted consumer expectations. Shoppers appreciate the convenience and accessibility of a website, particularly if it offers a list of products and the option to buy online. Most regard the absence of a website as evidence that a business is ‘outdated’ and are frustrated when basic content, like product listings and opening hours, are missing.

“Nowadays, selling online is a straightforward process thanks to a myriad of inexpensive, easy-to-use tools. With e-commerce, Ireland’s SMEs have access to their chosen market of potential customers 24/7, 365 days a week. This trade is worth billions to our economy and is set to grow substantially as more people and businesses go online for the first time.

“If you’re not online, your business is effectively invisible. Our research has shown that 80 percent of Irish consumers go online to search for information about businesses. If you don’t have a presence on the web, you’re missing out on a huge number of potential customers.”

Next month, IEDR will publish the latest edition of its dot ie Digital Health Index, a biannual report which measures the ‘health’ of Irish SMEs’ digital assets, like websites, social media and e-commerce capabilities.

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