Nearly half of the UK's small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that the government is not doing enough to encourage them to buy and sell on the internet, according to a new report.
Research published today by MORI reveals that 46 per cent of SME suppliers, and 48 per cent of SME buyers believe the government is driving online commerce. Only seven per cent of suppliers cited government support as a driver to online trading.
Nigel Griffiths, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said the Budget had given "welcome tax breaks for SMEs, such as 100 per cent mark down for computerisation". But he added that the business challenge is to "widen the reach of the new economy, and the ability to innovate. One clear lesson is that e-technology can't stand still."
Rouzbeh Pirouz, chief executive of Mondus, which commissioned the research, said: "You just have to start doing the maths to see how critical this is to not only the SMEs but the whole UK and global economy."
Security concerns are the biggest barrier for buyers (45 per cent) and suppliers (40 per cent). Lack of skills is the second greatest concern (38 per cent of buyers and 35 per cent of suppliers).
About three-quarters of SMEs in both camps identify new business as the biggest driver for online trading. Time saving is second (62 per cent of buyers and 65 per cent of suppliers).
Websites continue to be predominantly brochure sites rather than active ebusinesses. Almost 60 per cent of all SMEs use their website to market their own products and services, but only a quarter of buyers and a third of suppliers are currently selling online.
Getting online within a year, however, is a priority for nearly 60 per cent of those SMEs that have a web presence. A further 25 per cent of buyers and 15 per cent of suppliers expect to go online at some time in the future.
From the buyer's perspective, three-quarters said that a web address ending with .co.uk lends reassurance about dealing with a UK based supplier.
The research was based on telephone interviews with some 400 businesses (200 buyers with two to 499 employees and 201 suppliers) from a wide range of industries.
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