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QuickBooks Commerce small business shopping report: Opportunities for small businesses, increased support from consumers

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated e-commerce for businesses and consumers, with an estimate from McKinsey stating that 10 years of adoption was compressed into about 3 months. And, while this means consumers are more open to shopping online, it also means that their expectations and attitudes about shopping have shifted in a fundamental way, turning the retail industry on its head.

Recently, we worked with Wakefield Research to survey 2,000 U.S. adults to better understand these shifts —and in particular, what they mean for small business owners — giving us the QuickBooks® Commerce Small Business Shopping Report. Overall, we found that there are both opportunities and challenges for small businesses as we move into this next era of shopping.

The opportunities

One interesting byproduct of the shift toward e-commerce during the pandemic was the overall erosion of brand loyalty. In fact, nearly half of consumers (48%) are more likely to try new businesses than they were pre-pandemic. This percentage is even higher (63%) when we look specifically at millennials, now the largest demographic group in the U.S. population.


This willingness to try new businesses dovetails nicely with increased consumer awareness around the importance of shopping small, creating a massive opportunity for small businesses. Our survey found more than nine out of 10ten (93%) shoppers said that supporting small businesses is more important than ever because of the pandemic.


All of this, combined with digital tools and social media means small businesses can effectively increase their customer base, no longer bound by geographical limitations. More than three in five (61%) consumers said they use online sources to find local small businesses to shop at, including social media advertising (35%), posts from friends and followers on social media (28%), and Google or Apple Maps (26%).

The challenges

With these opportunities comes new challenges for small businesses. First and foremost, it’s vital that business owners understand if they choose to not have an online presence or e-commerce capabilities, they are falling further behind every day.


Almost half of the consumers in our survey (48%) said they stopped shopping at a store they visited before the pandemic because they didn’t have an online store and more than half (53%) shared they considered using a business but changed their minds because the business did not have a website.


And, just being online isn’t enough. Ensuring a smooth online experience is key to going from clicks to cart to checkout. Unfortunately, more than four in five online shoppers (83%) have experienced technical issues at least once or twice while shopping or browsing on small businesses’ websites, posing a threat to sales conversion.

The future

It’s important to note that despite both the opportunities and challenges e-commerce presents to small businesses, they shouldn’t completely abandon their in-person operations. Why? Because more than half (56%) of consumers said their shopping journey often involves online and in-person channels, known as “omni shopping.” This means a majority of consumers are either looking at products in-store and then purchasing online, or finding products online and then buying them in-store. This number is even higher (69%) when looking at millennials.

QuickBooks is committed to helping small businesses navigate the often complicated world of omnichannel sales. Last year, we launched QuickBooks Commerce, a new offering that gives business owners access to multiple sales channel, integrates with their books, helps manage orders and fulfillment, syncs inventory across online and offline channels, and more.

For more information on how small businesses can navigate the opportunities and challenges of selling both online and in-person, check out QuickBooks Commerce.

The Intuit QB Commerce Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 2,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between July 28 and August 4, 2021, using an email invitation and an online survey. The data has been weighted to ensure reliable and accurate representation of U.S. adults ages 18+.

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