Why many Scottish small businesses are moving online to attract new customers

It is estimated that up to 99% of consumers, at least once a year, will now find a local business they need using the Internet.

About 80% go online more than once a week to try to find a local business.

Customers looking for a local hairdresser, florist, restaurant or garage will now increasingly find these businesses online, while using their smartphone or other online devices.

Therefore, for businesses – especially small local businesses – it is now essential to have some sort of online presence. Gone are the days when businesses relied solely on a newspaper ad and local word-of-mouth.

While traditional advertising and recommendations from friends and family still matter to businesses, the huge growth in smartphone ownership in recent years, alongside the popularity of companies like Google, Facebook and Apple, has transformed the how small businesses do business.

Chris Sims, MD of BT’s SoHo (Single/Small Office, Home Office) unit, said: “The growth in smartphone usage and the way we access the web and social media to find information has changed the game for small businesses.

“The pandemic has accelerated this shift to the internet, with many businesses having to change the way they operate, almost overnight.

“While the idea of ​​’being online’ for many businesses in recent years meant simply having a website, this has changed rapidly, with businesses now having to think about how people find them on search engines. like Google and also how they can promote themselves locally via social media.”

A recent study by YouGov found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of small businesses now believe having an online presence is good for revenue growth, and nearly three-quarters (70%) find it useful for win new customers.

The Small Business Survey highlighted the increase in SMEs offering products through an online store, rising from 22% in 2021 to 33% in 2022.

A recent research report from Small Business Britain, in partnership with BT, found that more than half (55%) of small businesses have now added new social media channels like Instagram and TikTok, with 42% having created a new website within the last two years. .

Chris Sims added: “With people of all ages now spending more time than ever on social media, this provides another great platform for small businesses to use the power of the internet to promote their business locally.

“No matter what kind of business you have, if you don’t have a strong online presence, you risk missing out on thousands of customers who don’t know you exist. It’s also a big leveler. It allows a small, local business to appear online, alongside big, well-known brands, allowing customers to take their pick.

“While many small businesses have already expanded their online presence, we know that for many they lack the time, money and confidence to do so effectively.”


Anna’s Larder is a second-generation Italian family business that sells a wide and varied range of products, including fresh fruit and vegetables, traditional confectionery, milk, free-range eggs, flour and organic pulses, as well as a range of gifts and cards. The Toma family has been trading in Alloa for over 100 years and Anna’s Larder has been trading for over 50 years.

Daily Echo:

Before Covid, Anna’s Larder was open 7 days a week from 9am to 8pm. They had no online presence, but a very good loyal local customer base.

When the country went into lockdown, Anna’s Larder realized they had to take the leap and create an online presence or risk being forgotten.

With the support of the local Business Improvement District (BID), Alloa First, Anna’s Larder Facebook page was created.

They also held a series of online workshops via zoom to help them and other local businesses promote what they were selling locally and, most importantly, remind people that they were open and business.

To date, Anna’s Larder has 2258 followers and not only has the Facebook page allowed them to promote all of their products, but it has also given them the opportunity to be part of the larger seasonal marketing campaigns that Alloa First promotes as well as to participate in the national Totally Locally Fiver Fest campaign.

In January 2021 Anna’s Larder launched the online store and again it was with the support of Alloa First who funded the online marketplace for Alloa shop.alloafirst.co.uk to ensure that all local businesses can remain competitive.

They’re also funding a local delivery service so that if someone places an order before 11am, it’s delivered the same day – or the next day if it’s placed after 11am. This service is available throughout Clackmannanshire.

Once a cash-only business, the online store made Anna’s Larder realize that card payments were necessary — and started using the Sumup payment service.

Embracing online technology means ensuring Anna’s Larder markets to as many people as possible, including through her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AnnasLarder

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To help small businesses promote their products and services online more easily, BT recently launched a new digital advertising platform.

BT’s Digital Marketing Hub gives businesses the tools and support to create, publish and measure their digital advertising on Google, Facebook and Instagram, all from one place.

To learn more about BT’s Digital Marketing Hub, click here

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