Bluehost, a trusted web hosting provider specializing in WordPress, unveiled the third edition of its Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) study. Conducted annually on World Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day, which is celebrated every year on June 27, 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 contributors to job creation, the optimistic perspective towards the economy they operate in, despite the risks from the pandemic and inflation, speaks of 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 country is a good hub for doing business. In the US, 62 percent of SMBs give their country a thumbs up, along with 60 percent in Australia, 53 percent in New Zealand and 80 percent of SMB respondents in India.
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, led by SMBs in India at 83 percent, 67 percent in the US and 60 percent of SMBs in Australia & New Zealand.
Selling online drives growth, say 73 percent of SMBs in the US, 75 percent in India, 59 percent in Australia, and 50 percent in New Zealand. SMBs also confirm that selling online helps reduce cost pressures. Nearly half of SMBs surveyed across the US, India and Australia have experienced cost reductions.
While 80 percent of 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, in Australia only 21 percent sell online, 22 percent in India and 16 percent in New Zealand. The US has the highest share of SMBs that have a website and sell online at around 25 percent. SMBs know that selling online will be key to growing their businesses in the new normal and intend to start selling online in the next 12 months. SMBs in India intend to embrace online selling the most at 42 percent, followed by SMBs in the US at 33 percent, Australia at 24 percent and New Zealand at 18 percent.
Harnessing digital tools
To make business operations more professional and customer centric, SMBs are adopting digital tools in their daily activities with clients. More than 80 percent of the SMBs are currently using Business Email. This is followed by usage of Social Media at 56 percent. In the US, usage of Business Email (77 percent) and Social Media (71 percent) is very high.
A similar ratio of SMBs use Video Conference, Digital Marketing and Online marketplaces, especially in India and Australia, with India leading in the usage of WhatsApp (72 percent) and the use of Online marketplaces (44 percent). WhatsApp usage is relatively lower in Australia (26 percent) and New Zealand (23 percent).
Managing transactions at a distance
On business transactions, approximately one third of SMB respondents have contactless payment options in all the markets. In India, nearly 80 percent of all payments being accepted are through a digital method, while in the US 38 percent say that credit cards are the most preferred payment option. BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) services is another method of payment that is nascent but is becoming popular amongst SMBs in New Zealand (8 percent), Australia (4 percent) and the US (3 percent).
“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.