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Vodafone scheme to help SMEs get online

Vodafone is to trial a series of digital workshops for SMEs aimed at equipping them with a stronger online presence

Vodafone has launched a series of digital skills workshops aimed at providing small to meduim-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are not yet online – or only have a rudimentary digital presence – with the skills to be competitive in the global, online marketplace.

According to a 2012 report from the Office of National Statistics, approximately 30% of UK SMEs lack a website. In an attempt to redress the balance, the mobile network operator (MNO) has partnered with digital transformation specialist Freeformers.

Practical topics on the agenda will include building a secure website, optimising existing websites for mobile users, enabling online payments, and advertising and brand-building on social media networks, said Vodafone.

“Customers want to engage with businesses through multiple channels and receive fast, responsive and quality customer service 24/7,” said Vodafone’s head of SMEs Jonathan Kini.

“SMEs need to adapt and be ready to take advantage of the online opportunities and benefits of being a digital business and not risk losing out by falling behind the digital curve,” he said.

The digital skills workshops will be held in Leeds and London. Among some of the Leeds-based businesses attending the inaugural event are Tarnished Studios and Red Hatch Classic Campers

Tarnished studios is a visual effects and animation studio hoping to improve its digital marketing skills and embark on building its first mobile app. Red Hatch Classic Campers hires out old Volkswagen campervans for road trips and events, and is looking to optimise its existing site for mobile and make better use of social media, as well as learn about customer data protection.

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“Our website is vital for us to showcase our vehicles and provide information on how to hire them,” said Gerald Chapman, owner of the campervan rental business. 

“We have found that Facebook enables us to add a personal touch, and as a new business we need to improve our knowledge of how social media can enhance our customers’ experience and increase awareness of our business for future growth,” he said.

Freeformers commercial director Dan Drori said: “It is naïve to think companies can prosper without robust digital strategies at their core, especially in mobile. We believe it is the responsibility of the UK’s bigger businesses to help drive this wider change in our competitive position.”

“These one-day programmes will demystify digital and provide SMEs with the practical skills they need to be more confident and competitive,” he added.

Additionally, as part of Freeformers’ existing one_for1 model, for each SME trained the specialist will offer a free place on the day course for a 16 to 25 year-old.

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