In a recent poll of small- to medium-sized businesses, financial and technology firm Kabbage Inc. found high expectations for sales growth this year as well as plans to make investments aimed at automation.
Kabbage, which offers lines of credit of up to $250,000 and cites retail as its top vertical, said more than 67 percent of the brick-and-mortar retailers polled expect revenue growth of over 20 percent this year. More than 73 percent of the online retailer respondents expect the same. The survey was based on responses from 800 businesses.
Regarding automation technology, nearly 44 percent of physical store retailers have plans to make investments in this area compared with 60 percent of online retailers. With cyber security and similar fraud prevention technologies, about 44 percent of both online and physical store retailers have plans to make investments in these solutions.
The survey also found that 21 percent of brick-and-mortar retailers have plans to invest in “real-time” analytics while 28 percent of online companies have similar plans. Companies also noted plans to make investments in mobile technologies as well as spending on social media advertising.
Victoria Treyger, head of sales and marketing at Kabbage, was not surprised by the survey results — especially with respondents planning to invest in time-saving technologies — and noted that a “general challenge for all small business owners is time.”
“We know that to be a business owner requires constant focus on a variety of business operations, which aren’t always the primary reason they started the business in the first place,” Treyger told WWD. “Things like payroll, taxes, insurance, hiring, loan applications, etc. There is simply not enough time in the day, and the data shows it.”
Treyger said a separate Kabbage report showed 29 percent of business owners “work more than 60 hours a week, and nearly 90 percent work on the weekends.”
“They need more time to learn new marketing skills, reach new customers, improve the experience for existing ones and, generally, stay relevant in the marketplace — all while continuing to pursue their passion,” she said adding that the funding used by its clients are earmarked for technology investments.
Regarding the expectations for sales growth of more than 20 percent, Treyger said it’s a “telling sign of the changing economies among small business owners.” She said retailsmall- to medium-sized businesses are “becoming more digitally minded and thinking beyond traditional methods” to boost sales.
Treyger said there were differences between SMBs across verticals. Businesses in health care and IT were more bullish in making cyber-security investments versus retail. “Yet it’s still a positive to see as many as 40 percent of retailers planning to invest in cyber [security] given their management of customers’ credit card and shipping information,” she added.
“Retailers outpaced the total average in other categories, too,” Treyger added. “As high as 54 percent of retailers plan to increase their total advertising spend by 20 percent on social media platforms such as Yelp, Facebook and Twitter.”
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