The data is contained in the 2014 Sensis e-Business report. "Almost half of all Australian SMEs that sold online reported mainly selling to local customers,” said Sensis’s James Ciuffetelli (Sensis, formerly part of Telstra, owns the Yellow Pages directories).
“With e-commerce offering customers the opportunity to purchase in a global marketplace, it is interesting to see strong interest in Australian businesses from local consumers. This is fantastic news for Australian SMEs," said Ciuffetelli.
Demonstrating the strength of the local market, 84% of online SME businesses reported selling to customers in the same city or town. More than half (52%) of online businesses reported selling to customers within their state and 53% to customers interstate. Only 26% sell to overseas customers.
Some 69% of SMEs with websites reported that having a website improved the effectiveness of their business, mainly by increasing the exposure of their business. “The report highlights the importance of having an e-business presence for SMEs, to reach the bulk of their customers," said Ciuffetelli.
Other significant findings from the report include:
- Just 2% of online business owners are connected to the NBN.
- Only 26% of SMEs with websites reported that they had a mobile specific website (up from 17% last year). This is despite the fact that 78% of Australians are now accessing the internet on their mobile phones.
- While 95% of SMEs reported that they were online, only 19% of those reported that they had some form of strategy for the business’ digital activities.
- The biggest growth in online usage in the past year came from the proportion of SMEs that used the internet to streamline communications with customers and staff, from 59% to 65%.
- On average, the amount Australians are spending online has dropped approximately 20% over the past 12 months.
- 85% of Australians look for suppliers of products and services online, reinforcing the importance of SMEs having an online presence.
- SMEs in metropolitan areas were significantly more likely to report having taken orders online (58%) than those in regional areas (46%).
The Sensis e-Business Report is primarily based on the June 2014 Sensis Business Index and on telephone interviews conducted with approximately 1,800 small and medium size business proprietors. Results relating to consumer behaviour are based on a survey of 1,000 Australians aged 14 upwards.
The full report is available here (PDF).