Small Businesses Turn to the Web, Mobile to Boost Holiday Sales

Businesses in the United States generate an estimated $1.7 trillion in online sales to consumers and other businesses annually.

Like major retailers, small-business owners are preparing for the holiday rush even earlier this year, with more than one-third (34 percent) planning promotions beginning on or before Thanksgiving Day, according to a survey of 507 small-business owners by Ink from Chase, the business card portfolio of Chase Bank.

More than a quarter (27 percent) of small businesses anticipate an increase in mobile commerce this holiday season and, on average, are expecting about 13 percent of their holiday sales to be through mobile commerce.

Small-business owners between the ages of 18 and 44 are more optimistic, as 50 percent believe their business will perform better this holiday season, while only 29 percent of owners over the age of 44 believe this holiday season will be more successful.

On average, survey respondents anticipate about 30 percent of holiday sales will be through e-commerce, with 32 percent of small-business owners predicting an increase in e-commerce sales from last holiday season.

Businesses in the United States generate an estimated $1.7 trillion in online sales to consumers and other businesses annually, equivalent to 11 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012, according to a survey released last week by technology organization Connected Nation.

In addition, the Ink from Chase survey found the majority (77 percent) of small-business owners said they believe customers are most likely to pay with credit cards and debit cards this holiday season.

Younger small-business owners are especially likely to increase inventory, marketing and social media presence. In comparison with business owners over the age of 44, younger owners are more focused on utilizing friends and family discounts (38 percent versus 18 percent) and social network promotions (41 percent vs. 24 percent).

Overall, 34 percent of small-business owners believe their business will perform better this holiday season compared with last year, and they are attributing this success to better marketing (52 percent), expanded products and services offered (50 percent), and increased consumer demand (49 percent).

"The holidays can be very stressful for small businesses owners who typically work longer hours and sacrifice time with family to end the year on a high note," Brent Reinhard, general manager of Ink from Chase, said in a statement. “We are inspired by the optimism shown by small business owners."

Many small-business owners say they'll be pulling out all the stops to get customers into stores during the critical holiday shopping season, according to the second annual Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, released earlier this month by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express.

Small Business Saturday, now in its fourth year, falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and serves as the traditional kickoff to the holiday season for independent retailers and restaurateurs.