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UK businesses unprepared for mobile devices, says Barclays report

Companies embracing online sales growing 50 times faster than rest of the economy

UK online businesses have grown more than 50 times faster than the rest of the economy, according to a report from Barclays, but many remain unprepared for the rise of mobile devices.

The Barclays Online Business Outlook 2013 report highlighted a compound annual growth rate of 11.4 percent over the past three years for the 300 companies surveyed with a strong online presence. This outpaces the slow growth seem by the wider UK business community, which recorded an average increase of 0.2 percent over the same period.

The report also makes the point that many businesses are not well positioned to benefit from the introduction of 4G in the UK and the rise in popularity of mobile devices. Despite 34 percent experiencing a rise in mobile traffic since Christmas, 89 percent of online businesses have not yet developed their site for mobile devices.

Furthermore, while 64 percent of businesses believe that a mobile strategy is important to their success, more than half are yet to begin putting such a strategy in place. 25 percent even claimed to be totally unaware of 4G services.

Those that have anticipated the growth in use of mobile devices are already reaping the benefits, the report claimed, with over half of UK customers making at least one mobile transaction in 2012. Companies which have developed mobile sites or apps generated 27.8 percent of their revenue from mobile services in 2012, an average of £2,474,000.

"In our experience, online businesses that have already invested in the mobile side of their business through the development of mobile-ready websites or apps are already seeing a significant proportion of their business coming from mobile devices," said Sean Duffy, Managing Director and Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms at Barclays. "Our research backs up what our clients are telling us - mobile-ready online businesses generated more than a quarter of their revenue from mobile last year.

"Considering that the average online business in the UK generated £8.9 million in revenue in 2012, this equates to almost £2.5 million of potential income through mobile. Online business is already booming and with the number of mobile consumers only set to rise, our view is that it will continue to do so."

The report also highlighted the loss of sales as a result of website outages. The research found that 12 percent of online businesses are losing almost £170,000 a year due to web outages, based on an average turnover of £8.9 million.

Duffy added: "While it's encouraging that nine in ten companies questioned are not experiencing web outages, there are still companies out there missing out on significant sales. However, our research found over a third of online companies are planning to increase their IT spend in 2013, which should help them address this issue."


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