Online misinformation costs small firms more than £6 billion
High street retailers are losing out on billions of pounds of revenue annually as a result of wrong or missing information on their websites, a new study has claimed.
According to UK Domain, 61% of independent businesses lack or have inaccurate opening hours listed on their website, which is costing them £6.1 billion in lost revenue a year.
It comes as the study found that two thirds of consumers will visit a firm’s website for information before heading to a physical premises – meaning the shops stand to miss out.
Many firms were also found to be victims of inaccurate listings that are shared via search engines, despite them not actually publishing the information themselves.
This unverified information comes from crowdsourced data and unreliable third parties, and can see the businesses lose out without realising.
Sales are hit as a result, as 63% of shoppers said they would not return to a shop if they found it closed when online information had told them otherwise.
Established chains benefit as 71% of those polled said they would turn to larger stores if their trust in an independent retailer was lost in any way.
Potential customers then spend money elsewhere which can place great pressures on smaller firms as they can lack the finances to overcome turbulent trading periods.
When rising business rates are also taken into account – a fifth of firms expect a rise of more than 40% – firms are facing an increasing risk of requiring insolvency measures to survive.
Those fearing financial difficulty may wish to undertake an independent business review to assess the scale of the issue and to get an unbiased look at their finances and forecasts.
Alternatively, turnaround management services can help a business get back on track by providing assistance with implementing restructuring processes and performance improvements.
For small businesses keen to address their online shortcomings, the key is to include opening hours, product information and opening days on their website – factors named by 87%, 86% and 85% of those polled by UK Domain respectively.
Having the firm’s address and contact information listed prominently on the website was also named by 81% and 78% of those questioned, while just over a third wanted to see information on the business’ background.
By Phil Smith