Small businesses are turning to software as a service (SaaS) and social media offerings to boost their online sales, but significant hurdles remain.
Small and midsize businesses are looking to attract new customers but struggle with implementing a technology infrastructure to manage online stores, which could expose them to a wider audience, according to a survey from business automation and order management solutions specialist Dydacomp.
The survey found more than 50 percent of SMBs view attracting new customers as their No. 1 concern, with 23 percent citing deployment of online store management platforms as a significant challenge. Small-business owners are also looking to new online channels to grow their companies, the survey indicated, with nearly 50 percent of respondents interested in leveraging mobile technologies and solutions and more than 25 percent wanting to understand how to use social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, to attract new customers.
Survey results also indicated that while software as a service (SaaS) offers many benefits for the SMB market, more than 60 percent of respondents said they have not yet evaluated any SaaS solutions for their business, although the benefits of SaaS solutions are numerous. The report found 38 percent identifying the ability to integrate multiple systems, such as Webstore, payment processing, shipping and accounting, as a positive. Another 38 percent cited having someone else manage infrastructure as a major benefit of SaaS.
The data we acquired from our customers during the conference is invaluable; it revealed that todays SMBs are open to leveraging new channels to attract customers and that they are beginning to see the benefits of SaaS solutionseven though they have yet to evaluate the solutions themselves, Dydacomp CEO Fred Lizza said in a press statement. In examining what aspect of an order management system is most important to their customers, respondents ranked order processing as the most important factor, and a majority of respondents said that the most important factor for their customers when shopping is the ability to easily find products.
E-commerce continues to take an important role in the retail space and is expected to grow over 15 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. With more and more SMBs looking to expand online to attract new buyers, trends have emerged that provide insight into consumer spending and confidence. In April, Dydacomp partnered with Internet Retailer magazine to issue a monthly index of industry trends for small and midsized retailers called the Dydacomp SMB Index, compiled from more than 1.7 million orders per month at more than 1,500 e-commerce operators.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.