Economic sentiment varies regionally, but US SMBs lead the way in ecommerce best practices
Bluehost, a trusted web hosting provider specializing in WordPress, unveiled the third edition of its Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) study. Conducted annually, the survey assesses the sentiment towards digital adoption for business promotion and growth. This year’s survey included SMBs in the United States, India, Australia and New Zealand.
SMBs play a major role in economies across the world and account for the majority of businesses worldwide. As important job creators, the optimistic perspective towards the economy they operate in—despite the risks from the pandemic and inflation—speaks to their resilience in keeping the economy buoyant.
Sentiment is starkly different across regions, favorable in growth economies
Given inflationary pressures are high, only 15 percent of respondents in the US showed a positive outlook about the country’s economy. The sentiment was more positive in Australia and New Zealand, where 33 percent expressed a positive outlook. In India, 69 percent of respondents were positive about the country’s economy in the next 12 months. Despite varying levels of confidence, SMBs across these regions say that their countries are good hubs for doing business. In the US, 62 percent of SMBs give their country a thumbs up.
SMBs know going digital is key to survival
Across these markets, 80 percent of the SMBs surveyed agree the rising costs of business is due to inflation. There is high awareness that a digital presence is the key to survival in the new normal, with 67 percent of respondents in the US strongly agreeing that an online presence is good for longevity.
Selling online drives growth, say 73 percent of SMBs in the US, who also confirmed that ecommerce reduces cost pressures. Nearly half of SMBs surveyed across the US, India and Australia have experienced cost reductions.
While 93 percent of American SMBs that have a domain name have a business website, selling online is yet to be embraced fully. Out of all SMBs that have a website, US businesses lead the charge, with 25 percent selling online compared to 21 percent in Australia, 22 percent in India and 16 percent in New Zealand. SMBs know that selling online will be key to growing their businesses in the new normal, as 33 percent of US businesses stated their intentions to start selling online in the next 12 months.
Harnessing digital tools
To make business operations more professional and customer centric, SMBs are adopting digital tools in their daily activities with clients. In the US, usage of business email (77 percent) and social media (71 percent) are the most popular among SMBs.
Digital marketing (46%), video conferencing (41%) and online marketplaces (31%) have been slightly slower to catch on, but have gained popularity with American SMBs, as well as worldwide.
Managing transactions at a distance
On business transactions, approximately one third of SMB respondents have contactless payment options in all the markets. In the US, 38 percent say that credit cards are the most preferred payment option. BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) services are another method of payment that are nascent but are becoming popular amongst SMBs, with 3% of those surveyed in the US naming it as their preferred payment method.
“SMBs are major drivers of both economic growth and social development, as they foster competition and innovation. The COVID-19 crisis has pushed SMBs to promote and grow their businesses online and now with inflationary headwinds, SMBs continue to show remarkable resilience,” said Mitika Kulshreshtha, Vice President of Marketing at Newfold Digital, parent company of Bluehost.
She further added, “At Bluehost, we are committed to helping businesses build a digital presence and sell online on the most favored and open source platform, WordPress. One-third of the world’s websites are built on WordPress, and Bluehost has been one of the most trusted WordPress hosting brands and provides a great platform for SMBs to enhance their digital presence.”
Bluehost administered an online questionnaire to SMBs across the US, India, Australia and New Zealand. Of the 1,314 responses received, a majority of the respondents were from industries including consulting, training, professional services, manufacturing, health and social services, educational services and retail.