TORONTO, February 27, 2013 - According to a recent RBC small business survey, only 46 per cent of Canadian small businesses have a dedicated website, and less than half (48 per cent) of those businesses say they sell their products and services through their websites.
"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 per cent 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 per cent of those surveyed promote their business using a dedicated website.
According to Statistics Canada, more than 80 per cent of the Canadian population is online; and a report by the Boston Consulting Group predicts that Canada's Internet economy will grow 7.4 per cent annually through 2016. Although this represents a significant opportunity for small businesses, twenty per cent of entrepreneurs admit that keeping up to date with technology is among their top challenges.
"It is always challenging for small merchants to stay abreast of new technologies and to find the capital to grow their independent businesses," said Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of Retail Council of Canada, adding that RBC in collaboration with Retail Council are investing in tools and resources to assist small merchants in capitalizing on the benefits of an online presence.
"Small merchant online and social media strategies can result in market growth and greater profitability," noted Brisebois.
When it comes to social media, only 39 per cent 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:
The RBC survey also found that four-in-10 (38 per cent) businesses that sell via their company website generate over 25 per cent of their revenue through their online sales, with two-in-10 (22 per cent) generating more than 50 per cent of their revenue this way.
For more information on e-commerce, please visit the RBC Advice Centre at rbc.com/techwebseries.
About RBC Small Business Banking
If you are a small business entrepreneur who is starting a business, managing growth, or considering succession planning, the RBC Advice Centre can help answer your questions. Free interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of business finance. In addition, online advice videos and free webinars are provided regularly to answer questions that are top of mind with small business owners. With the guidance of RBC business advisors, small business owners have access to free, no obligation professional advice about RBC products and services. For more assistance, please visit rbcadvicecentre.com.
About the RBC Ipsos Reid Small Business Survey
These are some of the findings of an RBC/Ipsos Reid survey conducted from August 9 to 20. This online survey of 1,004 small business owners, who were either self-employed or owned their own small business, was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online panel. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. An unweighted, probability sample of this size, with 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±3 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Margins of error for subgroups will be higher.
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