Small businesses are losing millions of pounds in potential sales because they are wary of using the internet to sell products or services.
Six out of ten do not sell online, though they use the internet to buy goods, according to a study by BT to be published this week.
The Voice of Small Business report, which surveyed more than 400 firms employing up to 50 people, found that they were failing to take advantage of consumer demand for online shopping.
Despite four out of five businesses having a website, nearly two thirds used it to promote their wares rather than sell them, while 67% did not believe they would find customers online.
According to BT Tradespace, the online business community that carried out the research, £20bn was spent online last year. This meant that small businesses were missing out on millions of pounds in potential sales every year.
In a tough economic climate, experts believe it is increasingly important that small firms look to the internet to help sustain and expand their business.
‘The number of firms using the internet to sell their goods is too low, especially in a recession,’ said Stephen Alambritis, chief spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses.
‘There is clearly an opportunity to create sales online, not least because people are increasingly preferring to stay at home and shop rather than go out.’