A new study by MasterCard has found that, whilst 90% of SMEs have an online presence, only a fraction allow customers to purchase their products and services online.
The Merchant Scope study looked at SMEs in Canada, Brazil, Germany and South Africa and found that that just one in five businesses were linked up to an e-commerce site. Hospitality business were most likely to have embraced both e-mail marketing and e-commerce technology to attract customers, whilst regionally, Brazilian SMEs felt most strongly that technology was key to running their business (92% of those surveyed). Less than half of German merchants (46%) agreed.
Across all sectors and regions, SMEs agreed that the biggest marketing challenges that they face are identifying and connecting with new customers. Around a third of businesses highlighted internet-based promotions and targeted deals as presenting a particular challenge. When it comes to the barriers faced when adopting new technology, the most-cited issue was costs (46%), whilst 31% pointed to a lack of technical know-how.
“Advances in technology – including payments – have often presented an opportunity for small businesses to level the playing field,” said Theodore Iacobuzio, Vice President of Global Insights for MasterCard. “But, as consumers take advantage of emerging technologies like mobile to access deals and rewards, businesses of all sizes find themselves needing to create an ‘always on,’ omni-channel presence or mobile app to attract new and repeat customers. Many small businesses, in particular, find this to be challenging.”