THE vast majority of small businesses with websites in Ireland aren't equipped to trade online, a survey has found, even though the market has been estimated to be worth €21bn by 2017.
While more than six-in-ten SMEs have a website, 91pc admit that they cannot process sales via the internet, according to research commissioned by IEDR, the company which manages Ireland's .ie domain registry. More than 500 Irish SMEs were surveyed across the country and found that more than half aren't using social media.
IEDR chief executive David Curtin said businesses know it's important to be trading online, yet they aren't prepared to do it.
"In an ever more global economy, the absence of an online sales presence puts Irish businesses at a huge disadvantage to competitors.
It acts as a major disincentive to attracting customers, for whom buying online is now the norm," Mr Curtin said.
Two years ago Retail Ireland quoted the Digital Hub Development Agency and said that the online market here was worth €4.1bn that year, and was expected to rise to €21bn by 2017.
Other findings from the research include:
68pc cannot process payments online.
51pc don't have the ability to interact directly with customers through social media or webchat.
66pc don't have video content on their website.
About 86pc of those surveyed employ up to 10 people, with the bulk in professional services and retail.
The research comes as IEDR will today launch its Optimise Fund 2015, which supports Irish SMEs and Micro-Enterprises in enhancing their existing online presence.