SMALL businesses are in danger of going under as bigger, and more digitally savvy, businesses move to take them out financially with new research suggesting they are oblivious to the threat.
According to American Express' 'Economy of Shopping Small: Keeping it in the Community' report, small businesses are failing to embrace the technology that could keep them afloat as larger businesses take more market share. The report involved an online survey completed by more than 500 small business owners.
While only 38 per cent of small businesses feel under threat from large online businesses, the majority are vastly underprepared and oblivious to the threats posed by big players like Amazon.
Despite the majority of consumers saying a website is the most important tech investment, only 52 per cent of small businesses surveyed have one, with 24 per cent worryingly saying they have no intention of ever getting one.
Katrina Konstas, American Express' Vice President for Small Merchants, says there is a real risk small businesses will be left behind if they don't get their act together.
"If they don't act now, there is a real risk small businesses will be left behind," says Konstas.
Konstas goes on to acknowledge that there is a huge opportunity for small businesses to capitalise on technological innovation and provide that 'special something' that big business will never be able to emulate.
"Small businesses need to focus on what's important for their cutomers in this new digital age, and offer that unique, personalised customer service that the big end of town can't," says Konstas.
According to the research, following a website, consumers think social media is the next most important tech investment for small businesses.
Almost half of small businesses use social media marketing and a further 24 per cent plan to do so. Further, 27 per cent expect to incorporate more tech into daily operations and 24 per cent are targeting increased online sales.
"Ensuring small businesses have a good website and social media profile means they not only protect their customers, but gain further reach and opportunities for referrals, so they thrive for generations to come," says Konstas.
Small business owners cite a lack of time or technical expertise as the biggest barriers to implementation of technological innovation.
The looming threat of tech-savvy big-business was not a concern for small business owners this year, with energy prices and managing costs and overheads being the issues weighing most heavily on their minds.
"While energy costs and overheads might be keeping small business owners up at night, it's important they don't lose sight of how they can keep their customers happy and loyal," says Konstas.
"While small businesses have a way to go in adopting technology that meets consumer demand, I urge all Australians to support them."
"Australians have a crucial part to play to ensure we have thriving small business communities in the future."
Business News Australia
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support