32% of Small Businesses Want to Improve Marketing

2018 ShopKeep Small Business Pulse Survey Results

The challenges small business owners face are well documented, but marketing remains a critical focus for many. In the ShopKeep Small Business Pulse: 2018 report, 32% of respondents said they want to improve their marketing. The report highlights the increased awareness small business owners have of their digital presence and the marketing efforts required to maintain it.

For example, 57% of respondents in the survey said they rely on their website and blogs to run their business while another 44% counted social media as a critical tool. A less significant 12% said they use influencers regularly to grow their business.

Although there are high rates of digital adoption, ShopKeep revealed brick-and-mortar small business owners are not yet fully aboard. For  example, only 23% of respondents listed developing an Ecommerce component to their operations as a key business goal. This contradicts the general consensus that businesses want to move some or all of their commerce online.

In a post on the official ShopKeep blog, CEO Michael DeSimone points out this contradiction as it is born out in mobile payment adoption. DeSimone explains, “There is still a lot of confusion in the marketplace when it comes to digital wallets and mobile payments. In the ShopKeep Small Business Pulse, 43% of small business owners stated that they don’t even offer mobile wallet options to their customers.”

This is despite the fact 25,000 small businesses on ShopKeep’s platform are equipped to accept mobile payments. DeSimone goes on to say, “we believe that improving education, as well as adding incentives like tying mobile payments to a loyalty program, could be something we see more of in the future to drive further adoption of the technology.”

The 2018 ShopKeep Small Business Pulse Survey

ShopKeep surveyed more than 1,700 small business owners with at least one brick-and-mortar store across different segments in the US and Canada in February 2018. Retail made up 50% of the businesses surveyed, quick service restaurants 21%, full-service restaurants or bars 8%, and hybrid businesses or others 21%.

As for business size, 50% of the respondents have at least 1-3 full-time employees and 25% have more than 4 full-time employees.

Key Points in the Survey

When it comes to challenges, 49% of business owners said maintaining profitability was top on their list. Marketing and customer acquisition was a problem for 39% while 37% said managing their inventory was also a challenge. With such a tight labor market, hiring and managing quality employees was also an issue for 34% of the respondents.

Questions about Mobile payment adoption revealed a mixed bag of results. Only 24% of respondents said they have seen a slight increase in mobile payment use in the past two years. But the vast majority or 68% said it has basically remained the same. This is much lower than the expectation business owners had when ShopKeep gauged mobile payment enthusiasm in 2016. At that time, small businesses were expecting mobile payments to account for 50% of their customer purchases by 2018.

Today, the survey reveals mobile payment accounts for less than 25% of the payment methods in the case of 56% of the respondents. Another 43% said they don’t offer mobile payments. And on the other extreme, less than 2% of businesses owners reported mobile payments accounting for 25-100% of their customers’ completed transactions.

You can take a look the at the infographic below for the rest of the data from this year’s ShopKeep business pulse survey.

2018 ShopKeep Small Business Pulse Survey Results

Photo via Shutterstock


Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.

4 Reactions
  1. Wanting to improve your marketing is very different from actually doing something to improve it. Just get moving in the right direction, even if it’s slow because slow is better than stopped every time.

  2. Hi Robert,
    “Slow is better than stopped every time.” It makes a lot of sense.
    The point is to get started.

  3. This is not surprising. Marketing is what drives customers. To improve it means you want to get more customers and improve your bottomline.

  4. The point is to get started!