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Firms fail to adopt online trading

Scottish SMEs ‘losing out’ by lacking basic digital skills

digital skills

Firms are losing out on digital opportunities


Almost half of Scottish SMEs lack basic digital skills and only a fifth benefit from trading online, according to a new survey.

Bank of Scotland research also found that only 8% use digital channels to search for growth opportunities.

The survey found that 44% of smaller Scottish firms lack the basic digital skills that could drive growth and only 22% are gaining a “transactional benefit” from trading online domestically.

This figure falls further when it comes to targeting international markets, with just 13% using online channels to trade overseas. However, this was 5% higher than the rest of the UK.

Positively, there are now more Scottish businesses online, says the Bank of Scotland Business and Charity Index.

Businesses across the UK embracing advanced technologies including cloud IT, online accounting software and digital training tools could generate more than £100,000 in additional annual turnover than those who have none, says the research.

The benefits include saving time through digital, more than twice as many compared to 2014. SMEs and charities with advanced digital capabilities are able to save a day a week, showing that the benefits of digital go beyond the bottom line.

The survey found that firms are still failing to protect their assets against cyber threats with 41% saying hey do not want to develop their cyber security capability.

Philip Grant, chairman of the Scottish executive committee at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Scotland’s digital technology sector is forecast to grow twice as fast as the Scottish economy overall in the years to 2024.

“Our findings show that SMEs are capitalising on this momentum with over half (56%) with full basic digital skills, an increase of 21% compared to figures reported in 2015.

“There is still more that can be done to further upskill and build confidence in using digital technologies that will create opportunities.”



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