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Internet remains uncharted territory for Canadian businesses

RBC poll suggests Canadian businesses struggle to keep up with online technologies.


TORONTO—Only 46% of Canadian small businesses have a dedicated website, and less than half (48%) of those businesses say they sell their products and services through their websites, according to a recent RBC small business survey.

“With the majority of consumers choosing to research and shop for products and services online, businesses without a web presence are missing a significant opportunity,” says Jim Mulligan, national director, Retail, RBC Royal Bank. “Businesses need to be visible where consumers choose to be, so investing in an online strategy is fundamental to attract new customers and stay competitive.”

In fact, 56% of the entrepreneurs in the survey rate finding and keeping clients as one of the top business challenges that they will face over the next year, yet only 41% of those surveyed promote their business using a dedicated website.

According to Statistics Canada, more than 80% of the Canadian population is online; and a report by the Boston Consulting Group predicts that Canada’s Internet economy will grow 7.4% annually through 2016. Although this represents a significant opportunity for small businesses, 20% of entrepreneurs admit that keeping up to date with technology is among their top challenges.

When it comes to social media, only 39% of entrepreneurs surveyed say that they use social media to promote their business.

Mulligan adds that engaging in social media offers many positive benefits for entrepreneurs, citing the following examples:

  • Improved market awareness;
  • More lead generation opportunities;
  • Increased relationship building opportunities with existing customers and prospects;
  • Better reputation monitoring; and
  • Additional traffic to existing web sites.

The RBC survey also found that 38 per cent of businesses that sell via their company website generate over 25% of their revenue through their online sales, with two-in-10 (22%) generating more than 50 per cent of their revenue this way.