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Survey Examines Small Business’ 2013 Outlooks

Sellers predict revenue will grow, expect to do more with less.

Almost half of small online businesses expect to have higher revenues this year compared to last and small business owners are more in tune with social marketing than the big guys.

Those are two of the findings of a recent survey by Alibaba.com, which polled 600 U.S. small-business owners about their outlooks for 2013. It found that 46 percent of respondents expect their revenues to grow this year, while 33 percent say they’re unsure how their revenues will do and 21 percent think their revenues will decline.

49 percent of the sellers surveyed say they see opportunities in building a new online store

Miriam Otto, the owner of Blue Frog Shoes, says her sales doubled last year. She thinks they will go up again this year.

“We hope to double our sales in 2013,” she tells us.

Managing costs, growth

Additionally, the survey finds that sellers expect to do more with less in 2013. About 78 percent say they’ll cut costs and streamline operations as the year goes on, and about 90 percent say they’ll hold off on hiring new employees.

When it comes to expanding their businesses, 49 percent of the sellers surveyed say they see opportunities in building a new online store, 30 percent in importing new products and 23 percent in exporting more.

What areas would they target for those exports? More than 50 percent say to Brazil, Russia, India and China. About 29 percent say they would focus on the United Kingdom.

Less mobile, more social

The survey also finds that small online businesses are not ready for mobile commerce, despite its popularity. That market is expected to reach $31 billion by 2017, according to Forrester Research, however, 83 percent of respondents say they don’t have a mobile commerce site, noting that they don’t have the time or money for one.

That’s probably not a huge problem for bigger retailers. But the little guy has the upper hand in another battle: social commerce.

In fact, 37 percent of those surveyed say social commerce is one of their most effective marketing techniques. Fifty-four percent say word-of-mouth marketing is effective for their business, the report finds.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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