Time and time again, you’ve read that mobile is huge. Three, four, five years ago – you were told to make mobile a key part of your business strategy because that’s where your customers were. Today,  nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and 19% of Americans rely to some degree on a smartphone for accessing online services and information and for staying connected to the world around them (Pew Research Center, April 2015). Mobile has been so tremendous that in mature markets like North America, growth is now coming from the increasing number of devices per individual (Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2015).

But what about the actual effect on retail? According to Deloitte, digital devices’ influence on in-store purchase behavior is growing: more than $500 billion in sales is now influenced by mobile content. And yet, 55% of small businesses still don't have a website (Google, July 2014), much less a mobile-optimized one – which is what you need in order to reach your customers on their devices.

At Endurance International Group, we set out to ask our U.S. small business customers their perspective on the mobile landscape, and to identify the top barriers standing in their way of going mobile.

Some key findings: 

  • A majority of respondents (68%) believe having a mobile app would help them sell more and engage better with their customers.
  • 65% of respondents agree a mobile presence is required to stay competitive.
  • 55% of respondents agree mobile solutions are fundamentally changing the nature of sales for their business.

A vast majority of small business owners understand the mobile opportunity but they are slow to act because of the perceived barriers to entry. We found their biggest hurdles were:

Lack of Skill and Knowledge

50% of respondents let us know they simply lack the skill or knowledge required to build a mobile site or app for their business. However, there are various resources at hand:

  • You can find website or app-building tools online that can help create a mobile-friendly site in easy steps, such as WordPress or goMobi.
  • If the tools are complicated or you’re stumped, your local chamber of commerce and sites like SCORE have meetups or trainings with experts and fellow small business owners where you can get help.
  • Google has a Get Your Business Online initiative designed to make it fast and easy for businesses to get online by offering a customized domain name, an easy-to-create website, and a better presence on Google Search and Maps.

Lack of Time

23% of respondents said they don’t have the time to maintain a mobile presence. Small business owners need to recognize that it’s not a matter of time anymore. Having a mobile site is key to the continued growth and success of your business. It’s just as important as managing every other aspect of your business.

A mobile site does not have to be complicated or overly designed. It can be one page with key business information like an address, phone number, and your specialty – and it’s an opportunity to showcase your business aesthetic and personality. Many small businesses may rely on aggregate review sites, but these sites offer no customization and may not be the best representation of your business.

Cost to Develop

The third biggest barrier to creating a mobile solution is the perceived high cost. 22% of our respondents cited concerns about cost to develop a site. As I mentioned, the site for your business can be simple. Many tools are available to create sites with clean, effective templates for low or no cost. The value you’ll get from reaching a new demographic for your business – and staying relevant to younger customers – will far outweigh the minimal expense.

The truth is, the potential loss in business is unknown if you don’t have a mobile presence – but it will likely increase over time as more customers are unable to find you with the screen they’re using. Your business does not need to be global, or even national, to show up in Google search results. In fact, local small businesses have the best opportunity to gain customers when people are looking for goods and services in their vicinity on mobile devices.

Creating an effective online and mobile presence is critical for small businesses to stay competitive and relevant to their customers. Historically, sales success has been driven by word of mouth, customer service, or competitive pricing. But with the rise of mobile, customers increasingly control the reins—they have access to information about competitive products and pricing at their fingertips, long before they step foot into your business.

View the 2015 Small Business Perspectives on Mobile infographic here.

About the Author(s)

Hari Ravichandran

Hari Ravichandran is the founder and CEO of Endurance International Group, a cloud-technology platform for small business. For the past 18 years, Hari has built Endurance into a trusted partner for more than 4.2 million small businesses. Blog | Facebook | LinkedIn | YouTube

Founder and CEO, Endurance International Group
Man Staying in Touch on Mobile Device