Most consumers would generally prefer to shop and buy from local/small businesses but they also want those businesses to be digitally savvy. That’s according to a survey by Yodle of 6,000 US adults released in late June.
The following are the top 10 reasons to use or stop using a local business according to the survey data. While local businesses are at a disadvantage in terms of pricing consumers believe there’s a better overall experience to be had by shopping at independent stores. A majority of survey respondents consider local businesses to be more trustworthy and deliver better quality than big boxes.
The survey found that consumers were typically willing to pay somewhat higher prices to local businesses in order to accomplish or receive:
- Better quality work — 72%
- To support the community — 48%
- Personalized service — 44%
Although they’re willing to forgo lower pricing for better service and quality, consumers still want local businesses to price products and services more aggressively and/or offer deals. Interestingly, consumers also want local businesses to improve their websites.
The desire for improved websites aligns with small business digital priorities. Consistently “a better website” is a top SMB digital marketing objective.
One of the most interesting sets of findings concerns consumer expectations and differentiation. The chart below shows digital features/capabilities that could impact perception of a small business (and therefore the bottom line). They’re ranked as “not important,” “expected” or “sets business apart.”
Consumers want loyalty programs first and foremost from SMBs. They expect reviews and a surprising number now want to be able to book or pay for a product or service “online” (think mobile app or via website). These findings should be most eye-opening for SMBs who mostly haven’t place emphasis or priority on booking or payments capabilities.
A substantial number of consumers want to see booking and payments added within 12 months. Those businesses that do so will see a competitive advantage and those that do not. Think: Uber and Lyft vs. conventional taxis.
In terms of communicating with customers, most consumers appear to be receptive to email communications. This suggests that SMBs should be doing more email communication, not less.
The final point I want to pull from the survey is about reviews. Most people “in the industry” tend to believe that consumers write reviews when they’ve had a negative experience. For years Yelp has said the opposite and this survey confirms Yelp’s position: positive experiences are much more frequently the motivation for consumer reviews.
Finally the chart above on the right shows that 89% of survey respondents “would leave a review if asked.” This suggests that simply by asking satisfied customers to write reviews on specific sites (e.g., Yelp or Facebook) business owners can significantly boost positive review counts.
The full survey report can be downloaded here (reg. required).