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New Zealand businesses failing to catch web bug

By Benn Bathgate

Friday 5th November 2010

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MYOB general manager Julian Smith has said the company is to focus the bulk of its $90 million R&D investment fund on finding ways to get more New Zealand businesses online and using the internet more productively.

He was speaking in the wake of the release of the latest MYOB Business Monitor which found only 34% of New Zealand businesses own a website and just 20% sell products and services online.

The survey of more than 1000 New Zealand businesses across all sectors found businesses in the manufacturing sector were the fastest adopters of the internet, with 50% owning a business website, followed by retail and hospitality businesses on 48%.

Smith said the survey highlights an opportunity for New Zealand business to become more engaged in the global online economy at a time when the number of internet users is set to top two billion globally, and for the whole country to make productivity gains.

“We know businesses that have a website, and trade online, perform better – generating more revenue gains than businesses without a website,” he said.

“When we look at ways we can boost the productivity of the whole economy – helping more businesses get online would achieve real results.”

According to the Monitor survey, 44% of businesses with a website have more sales or orders in the pipeline (booked in the next three months), compared to just 30% of businesses that don’t operate online.

Looking at the last 12 months, 37% of businesses with a website reported an increase in revenue, while only 28% of businesses without a website saw revenues rise.

Smith said that throughout New Zealand online adoption rates were very similar, with the main centres only slightly ahead of the rest of the country.

“Perhaps surprisingly for the highly-connected Auckland though, it is Christchurch that leads the way on online activity, with 37% of all businesses operating a website, followed by Auckland on 36%,” said Smith.

“Wellington – despite being the seat of government – is lagging behind, with only 31% of businesses owning a website.”

While adoption rates were similar the survey did uncover considerable differences in online activity by the size of business.

Small and medium enterprises, with between five and 19 employees, are the most active online, with 68% owning a website, while only 28% of sole traders have an online presence.

More sophisticated online tools and trends were found to be largely absent from business activity, with 14% of businesses using social media to support business aims.

A marked generation gap in the use of social media was also found, with 22% of business owners under 40 using social media tools compared to 11% of those in the over-40 age range.

“New Zealand’s internet economy is an issue of national significance – one that needs to be addressed not only by individual businesses, but by government, agencies and business leaders,” said Smith.

“As the furthest flung OECD nation, this is an opportunity we could embrace that could provide immediate productive benefits to New Zealand.”


The survey also provided an insight into how New Zealand businesses used the internet, with:

·         12% writing blogs or online newsletters to promote their business

·         14% using social media

·         22% advertising online

·         29% monitoring competitors online

·         35% conducting online research and monitoring industry trends

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