Two out of three Australian small businesses don’t have a website

Consumers are increasingly comfortable buying goods online yet Australian businesses are lagging behind the trend, according to research by the MYOB Business Monitor that found 65 percent of businesses don’t have a website.

“We’re witnessing a major shift in Australian buyer behaviour from in-store tyre-kicking to savvy online bargain hunters. The market is changing and we encourage business owners to act to make the most of the new conditions, because their competitors are no longer just in their local area,” said CEO of MYOB, Tim Reed.

The findings also revealed that businesses established for more than 10 years are less likely to have a website (25%) than maturing (32%) or new (36%) businesses.

He said over Christmas more shoppers went online and the strong Aussie dollar made purchasing from overseas sources more attractive, while the rapid uptake of smartphones is also increasing the volume of search traffic to providers of goods and services with websites.

“Many people now use their smart phones to search for suppliers, compare the best deals and organise home delivery because it’s easier,” he said.

But for a small business juggling a range of different priorities, is having a website built really worth the investment of time and money?

According the survey findings, the short answer is: yes.

Thirty percent of businesses with a website reported their revenue had increased in the past 12 months, compared with 23% of businesses without a website.

Not news to you? Possibly not – nearly half (44%) of businesses surveyed agree that they would sell more and get more work if they used the internet better for marketing.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to find yourself a web developer and get cracking.

Business types least likely to have a website:

  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (19%)
  • Construction and Trades (23%)

Business types most likely to have a website:

  • Manufacturing and Wholesale (49%)
  • Finance and Insurance (45%)
  • Retail and Hospitality (45%)
  • Business, Professional and Property (37%)
  • These stats seem to have been around for ages. Does that mean nothing’s really improving? It boggles the mind. I’d also have to wonder how many small business websites don’t engage a professional copywriter, thinking it will ‘cost too much’. The truth is, it costs more NOT to employ a professional. To go to all that expense of building a website, add the URL to business cards and other marketing material, and then to have poor copy once those precious visitors arrive, is negligent. I think a survey for that is in order!

  • I thought I was in a timewarp when I read this! But at the same time with so much confusion about what you should be paying, trying to find a reliable developer who understands SEO (Ha!) – and how most websites are invisible to google anyway – I can understand why a lot of small businesses just throw up their hands. On the other hand, a blog on your own domain works wonders – does that count in MYOB’s data?

  • In the last two years I’ve seen a shift from people just wanting a business website, to asking how to appear on the first page of Google. Basically as the online marketplace is getting more competitive, new clients seem more focused on ranking and results. Although Australian businesses may lag the US and UK we’re catching up quickly!

  • This one of the challenging things about throwing out your yellow pages, it is the Construction and Trades that you are most likely to need your YP for. If they don’t have a website then they rely upon word of mouth or a directory to get business.

  • Alison Hough

    Having a well designed website has the potential to create a more even playing field for new businesses trying to compete with their established counterparts. As a small business owner, I can understand the anxiety that can surround areas in which you have limited understanding, but web development is one of those fields where you need to call in an expert. Consider your website as part of your marketing, PR and technology strategies and the investment will soon pay off!

  • A website is just another channel and if a business hasn’t ever focused on channel building then spending $5k on a very basic website just isn’t going to become a priority for them. This all very much depends on the industry you are in and how you have developed your new business.

    If your work has always come from word of mouth you would be saying the same thing about advertising, I just don’t need it. Many business say that about the need for a website.

    Is it wrong, for people in marketing yes, but every business needs to make the assessment about whether they need a website themselves.

    The last thing many of them need is another piece of communication that will simply stay stale and never get updated. They are better off creating a directory listing in true local.

  • Thanks everyone for all your comments, this is an area that stimulates a lot of discussion!

    The fact is that 2/3rd of Aussie consumers look online before making a purchase, yet 2/3rds of businesses do not have an online presence. Regardless of how a business generates sales leads (word of mouth etc…) there is no doubt that the way we review a business and search for information has changed. Chances are, that you’ll want to “Google” that great builder your mate recommended to you, before you pick up the phone and call them.

    A great website does not need to be expensive, include e-commerce functionality and be hard to set-up. What’s important is that your website tells the world who you are, what you do and how they can contact you.

    What is even more important is that your website can “be found” – there is no point having one if no one, if you don’t promote it (it should be on your business cards, letterhead and yes, even in your directories listing).

    Julian Smith
    General Manager

  • 65% of business don’t have a website…. this can’t be right. I meet with business owners and in general service provider companies in various industries and I haven’t had 1 company that doesn’t have a website.

    Sometimes is the strange combination, where companies have a website but they use other service provide e-mail (e.g. ISP), but they all have a website.

    I have been designing website applications to support certain functionality requirement of a website for quite a few years and I can tell you, it can be done on a low budget.

    If you think about this:
    – domain and hosting ~ 70 $ (all in AUD)
    – website template (WP, HTML or others) ~ 50 $
    – basic functionality (contact forms, surveys, small database query, e-mail setup, etc) ~ 200 $

    A company can start with a as low as 300 – 350 $ and be up and running in say 1 – 2 weeks. A website revision will cost somewhere around 150 $. If you want say custom designed application you can probably go to about 500 $.

    I have managed to do this for most of my clients.

    So why in the world would someone not invest such small amount of money to get his website up on the web… no idea.

  • Sometimes there’s so much to do in some particular business that the owner lack of time on this web tricks. He or she is aware of what they do in their business but they have no idea how it works on web and what can be gained of web presence… They got to know one thing for sure – the contacts of their company must be on web – this is most searched thing ever. Their company must have some description of their activity and their business. All this require only one html page. This is not expensive at all. It’s affordable. It’s easy.

    All you got to do is to register domain ( it’s very easy if you can read web hosting manuals )
    Create html page – needs some basic reading and it’s ready.
    Upload that page to hosting as index.html and viola you have a simple website.

    To hire a specialist who could do it – can’t be easier… The work of creating such website won’t last more than an hour.

    You have to find time and believe in web.

  • Ravi Subedi

    would anyone be kind enough to help me with the source of this article? especially the statistics part.
    I’m @
    will be much appreciated!