Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 21st November 2023

Four In 10 Customers Shun ‘Online’ When Shopping At Small Businesses


Image by Preis_King from Pixabay
Image by Preis_King from Pixabay
A study by Forbes Advisor has shown that 42% of those who shop at small businesses are doing so exclusively in physical shops.

Among those who prefer to buy from smaller and independent brands, the primary motivator (57%) was that they wanted their money to be spent within the local community. The next biggest drivers were quality of service (43%), and finding SMEs to be more trustworthy than bigger brands (37%).

While larger retailers are often able to offer their customers lower prices than smaller shops, our study found that customers of small businesses are happy to pay a premium. Nearly one in five (19%) are prepared to pay up to 10% to buy from a small business.

While most shoppers split their custom between small and large businesses based on what they are buying, around one in six (15%) make a point to only buy from small businesses (unless a large brand is the only option). However, a similar number of shoppers (17%) claim the opposite, and will only purchase from major retailers unless the item is only stocked by smaller businesses.

Shoppers who favour larger retailers, are most commonly motivated by the lower prices on offer (53%). This is followed by accessibility (quality of customer communication at 41% and service 31%. Good customer service was also a key motivator around preferences towards small businesses. Only 12% of those who preferred to shop small, gave price as their reason for doing so.

Kevin Pratt, business expert at Forbes Advisor, commented:
“It’s encouraging to see that, even during a cost of living crisis, there is still an appetite among consumers to support small and independent businesses. However, many challenges lurk under this goodwill for local traders.

“For example, more than 40% of small business customers prefer not to shop online according to our survey – perhaps because these are the same people who value personal interaction. But business rates, energy bills, staff and insurance premiums have all rocketed in recent years meaning physical premises are simply not an option for many small businesses. Sadly, customers will need to be prepared to pay considerably more than the 10% premium cited in our survey to justify these costs.

“Finally, whether customers use the internet to shop or not, some kind of online presence is crucial for businesses of any size these days – even if it’s just to list opening times, a telephone number and location. As our study also shows, over four in five business owners considered their website to be a critical aspect of their venture. But thanks to the rapid development of website builder services, this is at least one job that is easy and cost-free for small businesses across the UK.”