SMBs are going digital in the new normal to tap into new revenue streams, cut costs, and engage with consumers – Bluehost’s Global Survey

Bluehost, a trusted web hosting provider specializing in WordPress, has unveiled the third edition of its Small and Medium Business (SME) study. Conducted annually on the occasion of World Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Day, celebrated every year on June 27, the survey gauges sentiment towards digital adoption for business promotion and growth. This year’s survey included SMEs in the United States, India, Australia and New Zealand.

SMEs play a major role in economies around the world and represent the majority of businesses worldwide. As significant contributors to job creation, the optimistic outlook towards the economy in which they operate, despite pandemic and inflation risks, speaks to their resilience in keeping the economy buoyant.

The sentiment is very different from one region to another, favorable in the growing economies

Given that inflationary pressures are high, only 15% of respondents in the United States showed a positive view of the country’s economy. Sentiment was more positive in Australia and New Zealand, where 33% expressed a positive outlook. In India, 69% of respondents were positive about the country’s economy over the next 12 months. Despite varying levels of trust, SMEs in these regions say their country is a good hub for doing business. In the United States, 62% of SMEs approve of their country, along with 60% in Australia, 53% in New Zealand and 80% of SMEs surveyed in India.

SMBs know that going digital is the key to survival

In these markets, 80% of SMEs surveyed agree that rising business costs are due to inflation. There is a strong awareness that a digital presence is key to survival in the new normal, led by SMEs in India at 83%, 67% in the US and 60% of SMEs in Australia and New -Zealand.

Selling online drives growth, according to 73% of SMEs in the United States, 75% in India, 59% in Australia and 50% in New Zealand. SMEs also confirm that selling online helps reduce cost pressures. Nearly half of SMEs surveyed in the US, India and Australia experienced cost reductions.

While 80% of SMEs that have a domain name have a professional website, selling online is not yet fully adopted. Of all SMEs that have a website, only 21% sell online in Australia, 22% in India and 16% in New Zealand. The United States has the highest share of SMEs that have a website and sell online at around 25%. SMBs know that selling online will be key to growing their business in the new normal and intend to start selling online within the next 12 months. SMEs in India intend to adopt online selling the most at 42%, followed by SMEs in the US at 33%, Australia at 24% and New Zealand at 18%.

Master digital tools

To make business operations more professional and customer-centric, SMEs are adopting digital tools in their day-to-day dealings with customers. More than 80% of SMBs currently use business email. This is followed by the use of social media at 56%. In the United States, use of business email (77%) and social media (71%) is very high.

A similar ratio of SMEs use video conferencing, digital marketing and online marketplaces, particularly in India and Australia, with India leading in WhatsApp usage (72%) and marketplace usage. online market share (44%). WhatsApp usage is relatively lower in Australia (26%) and New Zealand (23%).

Remote transaction management

When it comes to business transactions, around a third of SMEs surveyed have contactless payment options across all markets. In India, nearly 80% of all payments accepted are made through a digital method, while in the US, 38% say credit cards are the preferred payment option. BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) services are another payment method that is nascent but becoming popular among SMBs in New Zealand (8%), Australia (4%) and the United States (3%).

“SMEs are major drivers of economic growth and social development, as they promote competition and innovation. The COVID-19 crisis has pushed SMEs to promote and grow their businesses online and now, with inflationary headwinds, SMEs continue to show remarkable resilience,” said Mitika Kulshreshtha, Vice President of the marketing at Newfold Digital, parent company of Bluehost.

She added, “At Bluehost, we are committed to helping businesses build a digital presence and sell online on the most popular open source platform, WordPress. A third of the world’s websites are built on WordPress, and Bluehost is one of the most trusted WordPress hosting brands and provides a great platform for SMBs to improve their digital presence.

Survey methodology

Bluehost administered an online questionnaire to SMEs in the United States, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Of the 1,314 responses received, the majority of respondents came from sectors such as consulting, training, professional services, manufacturing, health and social services, educational services and retail.