Around 16 million people in the UK lack basic web literacy skills, potentially holding up economic growth to the tune of £63bn, according to a new report released by UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox. The report, created by consultancy firm Booz & Company, claims the UK economy as a whole could have been £63bn better if the country had achieved global digital leadership in skills and commerce.
According to the report, only one in three currently have a digital presence and just 14% sell their products online.
The report found small and medium businesses in the UK are losing £18.8bn annually as they don’t have websites to sell their products online.
The report was launched by the UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox, who currently chairs a charity called Go On UK which intends improve digital literacy in the country.
The charity is working with businesses that include Lloyds Bank, EE, energy group E.On, the Post Office and the BBC, Age UK and the Big Lottery Fund to train its employees in the four basic skills identified by the report.
Lane Fox said: “We read every day of the huge challenges that the UK faces both economically and socially. We need to make the country fit for purpose through the next decade and ensure everyone and every organisation has basic digital literacy.” Lane Fox said.
Jim O’Hara, president at Ecwid: “Being able to sell over the web should be a pre-requisite in in today’s digital economy, so this new study is a cause for concern. However, it should not come as too much of a surprise; setting up an online store is not always an easy task for small businesses in particular.
“In the past, the investment of time and money that has traditionally been needed to create an online presence may have outweighed the potential benefits, whilst for others, the lack of technical know-how and basic web skills have created a barrier to e-commerce. However, today it is easier than ever before to start selling online, whether it is through traditional e-commerce or the newer phenomenon of f-commerce (Facebook commerce). With recent figures showing that f-commerce is set to present UK businesses with a £3.1 billion revenue opportunity in the next three years, those businesses that fail to get online in the next few years are likely to miss out on valuable revenue.”