Small businesses and sole traders in the capital with no online presence risk falling behind in the digital economy and should be supported in being equipped with necessary digital skills, resources and infrastructure, according to a new LCCI report.
With the digital economy transforming how business can engage with customers, using online platforms is crucial for businesses to grow. However, new research conducted for LCCI by leading polling agency ComRes found that a quarter of the capital’s firms have little or no online presence, leaving them at a competitive disadvantage.
When asked about the reasons why firms without a website chose not to have one, the most common responses were that it was “not relevant to their business” (44 per cent), followed by the “costs of setting up” (28 per cent) and having a “lack of staff with the right digital skills” (14 per cent). The survey also found that over a third of London firms are being negatively affected by slow internet speeds, highlighting the need to increase investment in the capital’s superfast broadband infrastructure.
‘LCCI is calling for several measures to support businesses in becoming digitally connected. To support London businesses without an online presence:
- The GLA could create a new business panel focused on raising awareness of the benefits of being online to sole traders and small businesses.
- Government could reintroduce Growth Vouchers to enable small London firms to cover the prohibitively high costs of building a website.
“There is no doubt that more needs to be done to make London the best connected city and look forward to working with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to make that a reality.”
– Mayor of London Boris Johnson
LCCI is also calling for the GLA to encourage landlords and developers to include high-speed-broadband connections into new office buildings in order to reduce delays in setting up high-speed internet connections in the capital.
LCCI chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: “Digital connectivity is an absolute necessity in the 21st century for businesses to grow. With many companies using the online marketplace to conduct their business, as well as using other digital platforms such as social media to connect with customers, it has never been more important to ensure that small businesses and sole traders are not left behind.
“Our findings show that there are still many businesses who are not benefitting from the digital economy. While the government and City Hall are already providing support to businesses in going online, a large number of small firms and sole traders remain offline, unable to take advantage of the benefits of operating online. Raising awareness of those benefits, subsidising the cost, and ensuring businesses all over the capital can obtain superfast broadband connectivity without delay can enable more London businesses to make the most of digital platforms, and realise their full growth potential.”
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “In order to remain competitive in the global economy and bolster our reputation as the greatest city on earth we need to ensure every business has access to the very best digital connectivity and that all Londoners have the necessary digital skills.
“That is why we launched the new Digital Talent Programme which aims to nurture our tech starts of the future and are working hard to boost connectivity through a range of activity, including the recently launched rating scheme which provides businesses with a simple way to identify buildings which meet their connectivity needs.
There is no doubt that more needs to be done to make London the best connected city and look forward to working with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to make that a reality.”