Based on an April poll by Newtek Business Services of approximately 1,200 independent business owners, small business owners apparently lack e-commerce initiative. The low percentage of clients taking payments online-20 to 25 percent-suggests that many business owners do not know that their site can be a useful tool for selling merchandise as well as collecting receivables and payments for service.
Newtek Business Services' SB Authority Market Sentiment Survey offers a monthly window into the concerns of independent business owners.
The company's report concluded that this number will increase over time as businesses become more comfortable doing most of their business functions or applications online. Almost 50 percent of the client base polled do not have a Web presence or indicated being unhappy with their site. Factors included businesses having a site that is out-of-date and was created years ago; clients not knowing where to go or how to make changes to their Website; respondents' business and markets have changed; Websites require a "facelift" and a dynamic updating process; the site was written in language that is out-of-date; and search engine optimization and search engine marketing was not a real science or art when the site was created.
"E-commerce is such a major part of the U.S. economy today," commented Barry Sloane, president and CEO of The Small Business Authority. "It's important that small to medium-sized business owners use the tools that are available to them to compete with big business. The Internet has been the great equalizer in the market, with companies like Google and Facebook enjoying some of the largest market capitalizations of all U.S. companies today. They exist because of the Internet/e-commerce and are recently established companies, unlike JP Morgan, 3M or GE, which required centuries to reach their current size. Small businesses have the opportunity to compete today if they embrace technology and the Internet."
Fifteen percent of respondents do not even have a Website for their business, and for those that do have one, 65 percent do not take payments via the site. Only 21 percent of survey respondents use a tool that can track traffic patterns on their Website, and 55 percent of respondents said they no longer work with the original creator of their site.
"Our last key question, reflecting upon the use of Website monitoring tools, was both surprising but exciting for us as a company. We believed that very few business owners actually use their Website to monitor relevant traffic patterns that drive customers and sales to their business. What are the peak hours of traffic to your Website? How long do visitors stay? How many unique visitors come? Why do visitors leave the Website? Why is no call to action completed from visitors?" Sloane said. "This area of work needs to be better developed with our clients and for our clients."