Businesses blame poor broadband for lack of web presence
One in five Irish businesses that don't have an online presence say they are being kept offline by poor broadband.
Fourteen percent of Irish SMEs rate their internet connection as "poor" or "very poor", rising to 25pc in Connacht and Ulster, according to the IE Domain Registry's bi-annual dot ie Digital Health Index.
More than half of firms that don't have an online presence say its because they don't see a need, according to the research.
However, almost 70pc of consumers said it is 'frustrating' if a business does not have a website and nearly 30pc of people said they would not trust a business that does not have a website.
Not-for-profit company IEDR manages and maintains Ireland's country domain, including the so called '.ie' address used by businesses and institutions here.
IEDR says strong appetite among businesses for digital skills supports the need for rollout of national digital skills programme. Irish SMEs that have a website earn, on average, an additional €26,825 each year, it said.
The programme would be aimed at micro-businesses that have begun their digital journey, but need help to access the ecommerce market; as well as a Local Enterprise Office-run 'buddy system' to pair up businesses with digital experts in their local area, IEDR said.
According to the latest Digital Health Index two-thirds of Irish SMEs have a website, and even more are using social media and data analytics. Ireland's share of the European ecommerce market is €9bn and is expected to grow to €14bn by 2021.
However, most of this spend is going to foreign retailers that offer more comprehensive online services, IEDR said.
Only 40pc of SMEs that have a website can process sales orders through it, but that is up by a third from the previous quarter suggesting an acceleration of firms' online trading.
"We live in an age of convenience. Consumers expect to be able to research and buy from businesses, online 24/7," said David Curtin, CEO of IEDR.