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Small businesses acknowledge the business effect mobile can have, but so far, they haven’t done much about it. In March 2015 polling by Endurance International Group, 78% of US small-business respondents said their businesses did not have a mobile solution or app, despite the fact that 71% felt that having one would have a positive impact on business.
Expertise, time and money all play a role in mobile’s low adoption. Among respondents who didn’t have a mobile solution or app, half blamed it on the fact that they didn’t know how to build one. Around one-quarter said they were too busy running their businesses to maintain an app, and spending itself was an issue, as a similar percentage said creating a mobile app simply cost too much. Similarly, 37% of respondents cited the time and resources required to enable mobile sales as one of the biggest mobile strategy challenges.
Other research supports the notion that small businesses are behind when it comes to mobile. Among US small-business owners (SBOs) polled by Xero and Zogby Analytics in December 2014, just 20.9% used smartphone business apps to run their companies. Rocket Lawyer found similar results in December 2014, with nearly seven in 10 US SBOs saying they didn’t use apps to help with their business. And in November 2014 research by vCita, SBOs in North America were most likely to manage 10% or less of their businesses via mobile technologies, at 42.6%, and an additional one-quarter managed between 11% and 30%. Meanwhile, fewer than 15% handled between 31% and 50% through mobile.
However, most small businesses surveyed by Endurance expected to overcome these challenges sooner rather than later, as half said they planned to begin investing in mobile solutions within the year. Others took a longer-term approach, as 22% said they would start to focus on mobile solutions within one to two years. Still, 14% intended to wait at least two years—half of whom said three years-plus—and 16% said they would never invest.
As they take steps toward investing in mobile, small businesses will focus on a wide variety of features. Responses highlighted the need for compatibility across devices and platforms—helping marketers tie data together and provide a consistent experience across screens and channels. Small businesses also wanted mobile solutions and apps to be easy to manage and customize, which makes sense when one considers that they’re often strapped for time and expertise.
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