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Over 3.2million UK SMEs Are Ignoring Mobile - And Will Lose Over £50bn in the Next 12 Months

11/07/2014 11:24 BST | Updated 08/09/2014 10:59 BST

There are about 4.9 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK: a huge and lively ecosystem corresponding to 99.9 % of private sector businesses, according to the Department For Business Innovation And Skills. In this fast changing era, with always-connected consumers regularly using their mobile devices to find businesses, purchase goods or services, compare product prices and seek out deals, all major industries are undergoing massive disruption. However, while the competitive landscape is becoming more and more challenging, there is plenty of new opportunities for SMEs to connect with their audience, boost retention and get new customers.

Are SMEs taking the most of mobile? Apparently not: according to a OnePoll survey, commissioned by AppsBuilder, 65.8% of the nation's 4.9 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not currently have a mobile presence; equating to potential lost revenues of over £50 Billion in the next 12 months alone.

The findings reveal that SMEs are not responding fast enough to customers' changing habits and come amidst a period of unprecedented growth in the number of consumers in the UK using mobile phones to access the Internet, which has doubled in the UK over the last 3 years (Source: Office for National Statistics).

With an average of 5% of all retail sales coming via mobile (Source: 2013 Internet Retailer Global Mobile 500), businesses who fail to successfully present themselves to a mobile customer are at risk of forgoing a big slice of the cake.

The national OnePoll survey of 500 SMEs uncovered that only 18.4% will be adopting a mobile presence in the next 12 months, which leaves a significant 47.4% of SMEs at risk of losing their competitive edge and failing to harness the lucrative power of mobile for sales as well as customer retention. The proliferation of social networks and mobile devices provide new opportunities for SMEs to create 1:1 digital experiences, but many are struggling with how to connect it all, the main reasons being a lack of technical knowledge (46% of respondents) and the perceived cost of development (36% citing this as the key barrier). A "mobile culture" is still missing among British SMEs as a lot of entrepreneurs ( 35%) admit they are unsure of the overall benefits of a mobile presence to their business. This is going to be a huge missed opportunity for SMEs and for the economy itself, given that having access to mobile tools is so much easier today.

The #GetMobileNow campaign (www.getmobilenow.co) has just been launched in a bid to address this shortfall in mobile performance and empower more UK businesses with the knowledge and tools to meet the needs of their mobile customers. SMEs will be provided with free resources to easily switch to mobile operations: on www.getmobilenow.co they will find access to a dedicated live chat for any questions they have regarding mobile and open registration to the week-long online event SME Mobile Strategies 2014 taking place from 21st - 25th July. Through live, interactive video interviews entrepreneurs will be able to learn directly from leading experts - including speakers from Facebook, HootSuite, UserTesting, SalesForce plus some of the top digital agencies in the UK and many more - how mobile can improve their sales and operations and moreover, how lack of technical expertise is no longer a barrier to creating a successful mobile presence.

The adoption of mobile changes drastically on a regional basis and its cost has dropped significantly since 2012 when anticipated costs were well over the £100,000 mark. However the results of the survey are not just reflecting the poor awareness of mobile benefits in the UK, they also show how fast consumers habits are changing all over the world since the rapid growth of mobile connectivity and the development of the portable/wearable devices market, while all industries are still trying to adapt to this rapid change. Today consumers are hungry for contents, tools and on-the-go customised services: a huge market is there and it's still not fully exploited. Shifting to mobile is today's SMEs big challenge.