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Can your SME sell online?

Claude SaulnierA blog post by Claude Saulnier - Wandsoft CEO

14th May 2015 

A recent survey from the IEDR on 501 companies suggests that 91% of of the websites of SMEs from across the island of Ireland cannot process sales online.

According to the IEDR, while 63% of Irish SMEs have a website

  • 91% cannot process sales online
  • 62% cannot (in the first instance) take sales orders online;
  • 68% cannot process payments online
  • 51% don't have the ability to interact directly with customers through social media or web chat;
  • 54% don't have responsive website designs for tablet or smartphone;
  • 66% don't have video content on their website;

I have not found the report behind it and I think this is simply misleading!

First, let's look at the definition of an SME:

"An SME is a micro, small or medium sized enterprise. Under the standard EU definition of an SME, businesses are classed as an SME if they employ fewer than 250 persons and have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro. Micro Enterprises employ less than ten persons, have an annual turnover of less than €2m and an annual balance sheet total of less than €2m.
Small Enterprises employ between ten and fifty persons, have an annual turnover of less than €10m and an annual balance sheet total of less than €10m. Medium Enterprises employ between fifty and two hundred and fifty persons, have an annual turnover of less than €50m and an annual balance sheet total of less than €43m". (source EU)

There are between 185,000 to 200,000 SMEs in Ireland (the Republic), so the sample is less than 0.27% of the number of SMEs. I am not a statistician, but 0.27% is hardly representative.

According to the CSO, in 2012, "the majority of enterprises in the business economy at 90.7% were micro-enterprises. A further 7.7% were other small enterprises while 1.3% were classified as medium sized enterprises. Only 0.3% of enterprises were large with greater than 250 persons engaged." Source CSO

Here are a few common sense explanations as to why some SMEs would not be able to process sales online:

  • Even with fully working web presence, some businesses don't sell on-line because they don't have enough stock.
  • There is a logistics element that needs to be handled: preparing the goods, packaging them and shipping them. Not to mention the need for a return policy.
  • I know some businesses with an on-line shopping cart who are not promoting it because they are not happy unless someone walks through the front door of their shop.
  • Not to mention that when cash is involved eg a shop, some small businesses are more interested in cash than a traceable transaction.
  • Some businesses while having a website will never sell on-line: plumber, solicitor etc.
  • It can be very complicated and expensive to get a merchant account. Bank staff often don't understand the process. A merchant account and Realex fees can add up to €80 a month.
  • The way the Irish banks have implemented 3D Secure means that many merchants are losing sales.We know that as we have functionality in our system to help them rescue orders by calling the client.
  • There are many cases where the business would be better off selling on ebay. Not sure if selling on ebay is considered selling on-line in their research.

So the question is, "Why releasing such a misleading piece of information?", or am I missing something?

If you run a business, and you are looking at selling on-line, we offer a no-brainer software package that will help you take your business on-line and run a business efficiently. Call me on 01 905 9010 to discuss how we can help.