Despite challenges like Brexit, Irish SMEs feel resilient but will need to embrace digital channels such as e-commerce to navigate the choppy waters ahead.

The latest SME Pulse Index of 200 SMEs across Ireland by payments technology firm Elavon, which is owned by US Bank  Corp, has founded that less than a third (28pc) of Irish SMEs are trading online.

The report found that reveals that Irish SMEs feel resilient in the face of challenges such as Brexit, business’ running costs and cashflow. The report also identifies growth opportunities in e-commerce, which many Irish SMEs have yet to tap.

“Small-to-medium-sized companies are concerned with getting paid on time and securing repeat business to stay viable – ensuring they offer customers a variety of payment options is crucial”

Of those trading online, less than 10pc of SMEs use off-the-shelf solutions for e-commerce. Instead, many businesses (43pc) outsource the development of e-commerce capability to external agencies, missing potential cost savings.

The study reveals that despite the economic uncertainty around Brexit, 70pc of Irish SMEs feel positive about their resilience over the next year; 64pc feel confident in general and 68pc believe there are more opportunities for SMEs now than 10 years ago.

Apart from Brexit, which was the biggest concern voiced by SMEs (53pc), other main challenges include business running costs (51pc) and cashflow (29pc).

Consumers want new payment choices

Similarly, with consumers indicating they want more choices in the way they pay, many Irish businesses are not adopting new technology.

By facilitating a variety of cashless payments methods, SMEs are poised to increase revenue via mobile wallets, through in-app payments and with next-generation, point-of-sale (POS) terminals.

While nearly three-quarters of businesses (72pc) have websites, less than a third (28pc) are trading online.

Among SMEs with an e-commerce presence, this channel only accounts for 10pc or less of total sales.

“SMEs make up the largest proportion of our customers and a significant portion of the private sector business in Ireland,” said Paul Dunne, Ireland country manager at Elavon.

“Understanding their perceptions and concerns is vital. Our research highlights that businesses feel broadly resilient despite the uncertainties of Brexit.”

“Small-to-medium-sized companies are concerned with getting paid on time and securing repeat business to stay viable – ensuring they offer customers a variety of payment options is crucial. Elavon is committed to providing expertise and payments solutions to help SMEs grow online and in face-to-face environments,” Dunne recommended.

Online shopping image: Montri Thipsorn/Shutterstock 

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Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 3 October, 2019

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