It is difficult to measure the size of the online economy with any degree of accuracy. The internet is a dynamic platform that is too vast to monitor and allows for a degree of anonymity that cannot always be factored into the equation. What is known and agreed upon by the experts is that the internet is an important part of any nation’s economy, sometimes overshadowing other sectors of industry that contribute to a country’s GDP.
The McKinsey report released at the G8 forum meeting in 2011 stated that the internet economy accounted for some 3% of GDP of the countries that it studied. Apparently it has also represented about 20% of the economic growth seen in the preceding 5 years.
Closer to home, World Wide Worx published its research in 2012 indicating that the internet economy contributed about 2% to South Africa’s GDP. World Wide Worx went on to forecast that the internet’s contribution to the South African economy would reach 2.5% of GDP by 2016.
No matter how you choose to interpret the figures, the fact is that the internet economy is big and growing. Even here in South Africa where we may not as yet have the online services that can be seen in developed nations, the internet is shaping our economy and redefining the way we do things. It has changed our lives, at least in the way we bank, shop and communicate.
As an entrepreneur it is important to realise that your business needs to follow the trends of other successful enterprises and in areas of growth. The internet is an obvious route to expand your market share, whether you are in a product or service based business.
Consider this – South Africa’s favourite online retailer, Kalahari.com, experienced a 40% jump in revenue in November and December 2012.
The fact is that South Africans are online and looking to the internet for their needs that were traditionally fulfilled in the ‘real world’ with brick-and-mortar stores. Your online business activities should be an extension of your ‘real world’ business and should be given the same time and attention.