Many small business owners know they should get set up to do business online, as more consumers embrace buying online and move away from paying with cash.
“The need and desire to bring their businesses online continues to accelerate,” says Kevin Phalen, Visa’s Global Head of Business Solutions.
Fortunately, there’s still time before the holidays—an important selling season for nearly 70% of small businesses, according to Visa’s new “Back to Business, Holiday Edition” survey.
And the research shows it could pay off: 52% of consumers plan to do half or more of their holiday shopping online, and consumers plan to give 32% more digital gift cards than in previous years.
“Consumers are saying ‘I want to shop the way I want to shop and I want to do it in the safest way,’” says Phalen.
And for local businesses that make it easy for consumers to pay the way they want, this could be an especially good year. Among consumers who responded to the survey, 24% said they plan to shop mostly with local merchants, and 36% plan to split their shopping between locally-owned businesses and larger retailers.
“The media is telling consumers where you shop matters and shopping with small businesses is critically important to our local communities and the overall economy,” says Phalen. “The reality is nearly half of American citizens either own or work for a small business. They represent nearly two-thirds of employment here in the U.S.”
Some local merchants are getting prepared. The survey found that 60% are taking steps such as extending business hours, digitizing parts of the business operation and investing more in the physical infrastructure.
Among those who have created an online presence, 76% of businesses see the holidays as a major sales opportunity, compared to 33% without an online presence.
Visa has been expanding its commitment to small businesses in recent months. Visa recently expanded a program in which “street teams” that have spread out around the country to educate entrepreneurs on how to go digital. So far, the program has reached 185,000 small business owners in 66 cities. It is now taking the experience online with a program to show entrepreneurs how to build out their e-commerce infrastructure and support payments in a fast-changing environment.
After receiving more than 5,000 applications for a grant and mentoring program offering ten $10,000 grants to Black women entrepreneurs, Visa and partner iFundWomen decided to increase the size of the program to offer 25 of these awards. The program has also recently expanded into India, which is home to many women-owned businesses.
“We’re finding that so many small businesses need fundamental business support,” says Phalen.