Following up on the study undertaken in 2012, this survey evaluated the level of Internet and eCommerce use by the local business community and its potential for growth. The survey gauged the level of ICT penetration across the different business sectors and assessed the use of eCommerce as a distance selling and marketing tool. It also provided an insight to the B2B activities that companies are engaging in across different industries. 63% of the companies interviewed were micro-enterprises (employing 9 individuals or less).
Results show that 83% of businesses use computers and the Internet to run their business, of which 85% conduct online banking and research, whilst 77% pay bills online. Statistics confirm a growing propensity towards B2B eCommerce, with the number of companies buying and selling products from business partners increasing by 10% and 8% respectively. The number of companies carrying out financial transactions with business partners over the Internet has grown by 23% over a one-year period. An increase of 5% was registered amongst businesses that use the Internet as a third sales channel.
The overall number of businesses having an internet presence grew by 2% since 2012. Interestingly, whilst the Internet presence of those businesses that have been established between one and three years has decreased by 8%, there has been an increase of 11% in internet presence amongst those businesses that have had a website for more than three years. Whilst the most cited reason for having a website is to attract more customers, a 9% growth was registered in the use of a website to promote and market products and services.
Although online selling remained constant, an increase of 6% was recorded amongst those that sell via email. Credit cards, closely followed by debit cards, are the preferred method of payment offered by the majority of online traders. 18% of businesses selling online stated that between 10% and 30% of their sales are conducted online, an increase of 6% over the previous year. The lack of interaction with customers was cited as one of the main challenges encountered by businesses when selling online. Most businesses declared that they do not sell online because their product or service is not suitable for online selling.
Although 36% of businesses still invest in traditional marketing, this amount decreased by 9% whilst digital marketing increased by 3% when compared to the previous year. As expected, Facebook continues to hold strong with 82% of businesses using this media to market its products and services. Other marketing channels that seem to be gaining in popularity are LinkedIn, Twitter and SEO, whilst affiliate marketing, display advertising and email marketing are not so popular.