It’s a shocking statistic, but less than 50% of the UK’s 4.5 million small-to-medium (SME) businesses have an online presence according to a recent BBC report. This is despite numerous academic and governmental studies that indicate, for instance, that companies could boost overseas sales by enhancing their online presence and engaging in online e-commerce.
Part of the reason for this malaise stems from the fact that one in three UK SMEs see e-commerce as a threat. This, along with issues relating to high-speed broadband access, are putting off small businesses from trading online and expanding their operations.
The final nail in the coffin is the perceived cost and complexity of launching a website and growing a e-commerce channel.
“Software projects are resource intensive and complex, and have a reputation for being both expensive and risky,” said a UK Small Business Report.
This has motivated a few leading web hosting providers to develop new semi-automated tools that help SMEs to deploy an online presence and e-commerce capability at lower cost, complexity and time-to-market
One example of above, is the new Sitebuilder product from UK2 which allows an SME to select a pre-built template and go live with a new website in less than an hour, without any need to employ a web designer or understand any HTML code.
The package includes the underlying hosting space and domain name which are bundled into the website creation process, and combined, total less than £3 per month. Video, images and well-known widgets, including Google maps and Facebook, are easily accessible from the drag-and-drop interface.
Once live with the new website the SME can simply upgrade the SiteBuilder plan to take advantage of further e-commerce capabilities.
This “beginner” website package is unique in that there are no fixed contracts or hidden fees.
The implications for SMEs are profound, considering a recent business survey, which indicates that the current economy is preventing six in ten small businesses from achieving growth this year.
The low-priced, point-and-click Sitebuilder tool has the capacity to offer SMEs new online marketing avenues to find additional customers who may not be available via traditional offline channels.
It allows an SME to quickly reinvent itself online which in the final analysis could mean the difference between simply surviving the economic downturn and thriving on the World Wide Web with a new customer base.
Click here to try UK2′s Sitebuilder.
Guest Blogger: Jason Stevens from jason-stevens.com / Freelance web developer, tech writer and follower of cloud computing trends. Follow him on Twitter @_jason_stevens_
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