As many as 40 percent of small retail and service businesses are using some form of mobile payment technology like credit card readers, according to the latest findings from the Local Commerce Monitor, an ongoing study by BIA/Kelsey that looks at the advertising behaviors of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Mobile payment acceptance has been gaining significant traction with these businesses, who state that they now accept payments at the point of sale with a mobile credit card reader attached to a smartphone or tablet. Credit card reader devices are now available for most smartphones, from technology companies like Intuit, PayPal and Square. As much as 16 percent of respondents said they plan to add mobile payment capability within the next year.
Many small businesses are also turning to mobile to get customers in the door, with 32 percent of the small businesses surveyed are also using some form of mobile advertising to promote their businesses, up from 28 percent in 2012.
"Mobile continues to make impressive inroads into the SMB market, as both a marketing vehicle and as an element of the business infrastructure," said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. "A closer look at the data shows adoption of mobile and social varies across SMB industry sectors. The LCM data reveals professional and home and trade services are embracing mobile in a big way, with service providers essentially becoming walking POS terminals."
Nearly three-quarters of the SMBs surveyed (72 percent) indicated they are using social media to promote their businesses. In addition, 52 percent of SMBs surveyed have a Facebook page for their business and 25 percent have a Google+ Local page.
"Together, mobile and social tools are transforming the way SMBs acquire and retain customers." added Marshall. "With the heavy use of social media, SMB marketing is quickly becoming a two-way engagement rather than a one-way promotion."
Many SMBs gave themselves high marks on their level of social engagement. When asked how "engaged" their businesses are with their customers on social media (e.g., responding to online comments, regular blogging or tweeting, regular updating of their Facebook page, offering a loyalty program), 66 percent stated they are "extremely engaged" or "very engaged."
BIA/Kelsey will present findings from Local Commerce Monitor - Wave 17 at its upcoming LEADING IN LOCAL: SMB Digital Marketing conference, which takes place Sept. 11-13, in Austin. The latest developments and opportunities around mobile and social solutions for SMBs will be woven throughout the conference, and in particular during keynote addresses and panel sessions featuring:
Matt Baker, Head of SMB Partnerships, Facebook (Keynote) Russ Laraway, Senior Director, SMB, Twitter (Keynote) Vikas Jain, Head of Business Development, Google/Wildfire (Keynote) Seth Priebatsch, CEO, LevelUp (Keynote) Zorik Gordon, CEO, ReachLocal (Keynote) Raj Kapoor, Senior Director, Local & Mobile Advertising, Microsoft Surojit Chatterjee, Head of Global Mobile Search, Google James Price, VP, Digital, Dex Media
The Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) is BIA/Kelsey's surveys small and medium-sized businesses with research partner Ipsos. The survey measures where SMBs are spending their advertising and promotional budgets and how their media usage and spending habits are evolving. For this study, SMB is defined as a business having from 1 to 99 employees. Local Commerce Monitor draws its sample of business respondents from a mix of nationally scoped MSAs, which include first- and second-tier markets. Local Commerce Monitor Wave 17 was conducted in July 2013 via an online survey of 568 SMBs.