Manufacturing firms urged to Do More Online

The Government’s Do More Online campaign is highlighting the risk that small manufacturing businesses will be hampered because they aren’t doing enough online and are missing out on opportunities to find more customers, be more efficient, and save money.

Do More Online research found that 70% of small manufacturing businesses feel inspired to grow, and 76% feel capable of doing so, more than a fifth (21%) of small manufacturing businesses don’t have a website; 46% are without any social media presence and 15% are not using online banking.

However, it also found that 50% have never used basic online marketing and many have never traded online either through a third party site (85%) or their own website (70%).

With total website sales in the UK worth £193bn, the Government and industry experts are urging small businesses and sole traders to do more online to make sure they don’t miss out.

Government Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Simon Devonshire, commented: “Government research suggests that nearly two million UK businesses are not online, and of those that do have an online presence; over two thirds are not transactional. 

“I cannot think of a business to whom being online is not now vital to their trade, irrespective of their ambition to grow. I think those businesses that embrace the digital opportunity are improving their ability to reduce costs; to scale-up; and possibly even export – giving a further boost to the UK economy.”

Tips from the experts:

Caroline Halpin, Google Partners:

“Start with the basics using free online tools that are available to you. Google My Business is a fantastic starting point, especially if you don’t have a website, as it will give you listings on Google Maps and Google + and ensure that your company appears when people search on Google. Start small and simple. You can do more once you’ve built up your confidence.”

Chris Rothwell, Microsoft:

“Get a simple web presence because this is where customers expect to be able to find you. If you’re not online, they won’t find you. This doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. There are many tools to help you do this, for example, GoDaddy has a package where you can get a domain, a website and an email for just £1 a week.”

Steve Heywood, eBay:

“Just get started! If you are making something that people want to buy offline, then there’s no reason they won’t want to buy it online too – so be brave and take the first step by getting your product listed on a site like eBay. You can do this for little or no cost, in around just 90 seconds, putting your product in front of millions of potential customers.”

Nadya Frost, GoDaddy:

“If you are setting up a website, think about why you are doing it and what you want customers to do once they reach you. On the front page have a clear call to action – don’t bother with a lengthy explanation of your journey, just be really clear about what you want people to do. Do you want them to request a quote, make an appointment, or put something in their shopping basket?”

Jonathan Zatland, Etsy:

“Online selling with sites such as Etsy are fairly risk free and easy. You can start by just listing a few products and build it up from there, once you have tested the water and understood a bit more about how your customers are responding.”

Neal Baroni, Facebook:

“To engage your customers online through social media platforms such as Facebook, it’s really important to be authentic and stay true to your brand’s vision. See what works. See what engages your customers – keep doing that, and learn how to do it better.”