Wednesday, 16 September, 2015


Upper Hunter businesses are lagging their counterparts in the rest of the Hunter Region and in NSW when it comes to engagement with the digital economy, risking missing out on the growing volume of online commerce that is sweeping Australia and the world.

The Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) spoke to 300 Upper Hunter businesses for its June 2015 UPPER HUNTERPulse survey. In 2015, just 59 per cent of Upper Hunter businesses (Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter Local Government Areas) have a dedicated website, compared to more than 70 per cent in the overall Hunter Region. And only 28 percent have a mobile responsive website, compared to 42 per cent in the Hunter.

Upper Hunter businesses also lag Australia and the Hunter in the share advertising and taking orders online, despite Upper Hunter consumers being more likely than Hunter residents to use the internet to purchase goods or services, do their banking and for social networking.

Author of the 2015 Upper Hunter Region Businesses and Digital Technology report, HRF Senior Researcher Anthea Bill, says the gap between the online take-up of Upper Hunter households and businesses poses a challenge for the region.

“For an SME the absence of a digital presence and strategy is likely to impact on business growth and competitiveness,” she said. “The introduction of high-speed broadband via the National Broadband Network may provide a greater impetus for digital adoption by businesses, as it will allow them to save time, work faster and potentially access new markets. However it is unclear if the majority of Upper Hunter businesses will receive such benefits before 2020.”

In other results in 2015:

  • Upper Hunter businesses are in line with their Hunter counterparts in their use of social media for marketing, rating above the national average for SMEs.
  • Commonly cited reasons for a business not having a dedicated website were not having enough time or staff resources and uncertainty over the benefits.
  • 45% of businesses felt that they did not need to improve their knowledge of ICT.

View the info-graphic snapshot Upper Hunter Businesses and Digital Technology June 2015.