UK online businesses neglect mobile strategy

Online businesses are failing to implement mobile strategies, according to a report from Barclays bank

Online businesses in the UK are failing to adapt to the growing use of mobile devices, according to a study released today.

The Barclays Online Business Outlook 2013 showed British online firms were defying the odds during difficult economic times. Almost every company questioned claimed to have seen some element of growth during the recession and over half said the increase in business had hit double digits over the past three years.

However, very few have embraced mobile, even though 64% claimed a mobile strategy was “an important factor in their business success.”

The survey showed 60% of firms had yet to implement such plans and only 11% had a mobile application or mobile-optimised website. This was despite the companies admitting to seeing a 34% rise in traffic visiting their websites from mobile devices.

The surveyed businesses that did have apps or mobile sites claimed online business brought in over a quarter (28%) of their revenue in 2012.

“Online businesses have performed exceptionally well over the last three years, but in order to sustain this level of growth, the next step is to invest in the mobile side of the business, if they haven’t already,” said Sean Duffy, managing director and head of technology, media and telecoms at Barclays.

Duffy claimed most of these companies were SMEs with up to £10m revenue who struggled to keep pace with the rapidly changing technological environment. However, they needed to raise their game or get left behind, he said.

“It has to change,” said Duffy. “The introduction of 4G networks will bring superfast mobile broadband within reach of more and more consumers, and we’re expecting online businesses to see  an increasing amount of mobile traffic as a result.

“Our research shows that many sites have seen a rise in traffic from mobiles since Christmas, compared to the same period last year, and this is bound to continue.”

There was a surprising lack of awareness when it came to 4G though, according to the Barclays Online Business Outlook 2013 study. A quarter of the respondents did not know what mobile technology was, while 37% had heard of 4G but knew nothing about it.

When made aware, there was some hesitation, as 53% believed the faster connectivity will increase the mobile traffic to their website and 45% were unsure if their current online shop window could handle the added pressure.

But, 55% believed there was no risk to their business if they didn’t adapt to 4G.

The government today confirmed to Computer Weekly it was working on a scheme to help SMEs with e-commerce. The yet-to-be-named scheme will launch later in 2013.

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