Online strategies drive small business profits: AMEX survey

Content may be king, but so is a good web presence. According to a new survey by American Express and Galaxy Research, small businesses engaged in e-commerce activities were 33 per cent more likely to be profitable in the 2011-12 financial year.

The survey of 1012 small business owners revealed that one in three firms sold their products online and the same number indicated that 45 per cent of their revenue was derived from e-commerce. 

A significant proportion also revealed their reliance on Facebook and Twitter, with more than one in five businesses stating that social media helped grow their business in FY2012. Additionally, over half said that social media was an important factor in business expansion, boosting brand awareness and generating prospective clients.

"Australian business owners cite company websites and Facebook pages as the most effective marketing channels," said Amelia Zaina, American Express head of marketing and customer engagement.

"Small business owners who have incorporated e-commerce into their business are seeing it as a worthwhile investment and appear confident of its long-term benefits."

However a significant proportion of firms - mostly in the construction, finance, insurance and health industries - find that selling their products and services online is irrelevant. According to Ms Zaina, key issues for some small business owners preventing them from implementing an e-commerce strategy are customer privacy concerns and problems setting up online payments.

"Fortunately, for small business owners, the Internet offers limitless opportunities so even those who feel e-commerce isn't right for them can make use of the online opportunities offered by social media to promote their products and grow their business".

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