Cox Business' Annual Survey: What do customers want?
Survey shows consumers want greater connection and more American-made products from the small businesses.
Small businesses should keep their cashiers, according to the 2019 Cox Business Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses. The Amazon Go cashier-less shopping model is only of growing interest among respondents ages 18-29 – up eight percentage points from last year. Seventy-seven percent of surveyed consumers prefer to interact with other people at checkout.
The preference for person-to-person interaction likely has to do with the level of service small businesses deliver. Fifty-three percent of surveyed consumers said small businesses provide better customer service than larger businesses.
"While big-box brands are forced to prioritize uniformity across their markets, small businesses can – and should – emphasize what makes them different," said Steve Rowley, executive vice president of Cox Business. "From service to customer loyalty, small businesses are known for personalized experiences that will ultimately allow them to survive in the ever-increasingly competitive commerce segment."
While 70 percent of surveyed consumers think Amazon hurts small businesses, more than half reported that they don't shop less at small businesses because of the e-commerce giant. Seventy-one percent of respondents said that they continue shopping small to support their local communities.
Surveyed consumers also want to continue the conversation with their favorite small businesses online. Nearly 40 percent of consumers think small businesses should improve customer engagement through social media.
Beyond neighborhood support, consumers want to support "Made in America" products as well. Approximately 70 percent of surveyed consumers would spend more money at a local shop that sold exclusively American-made goods.
While many surveyed consumers say they do their part to drive the growth of small businesses, majority feel that the U.S. government is not pulling its weight. When asked if the federal government was doing enough to support small business growth, 69 percent of surveyed consumers felt that it could be doing more. Specifically, surveyed consumers think the government should offer more tax incentives and support programs for veteran-, minority- and women-owned businesses.
Other interesting findings from this year's survey include:
- Seventy percent of respondents said they would spend more money at a small business that supported a positive social or environmental cause
- Just over half of surveyed consumers reported that they would stop supporting a small business if the causes they supported weren't in line with your social or environmental views
- Diverse and inclusive hiring was an important factor for 72 percent of respondents in choosing whether (or not) to frequent small businesses
- Small business segments that are outperforming others in the industry, noted as "above average" by surveyed consumers, are restaurants, food and beverage stores, retailers like florists and novelty shops, and building supply dealers – think hardware stores and garden centers.
"Year over year, our annual Small Business Week survey allows our team to get a glimpse into how and why today's consumers continue to make the decision to shop small," said Rowley. "We're seeing interesting trends in social consciousness among shoppers, as well as important stances on what roles technology should play in the retail experience. This information allows us to better understand the needs of our customer's customer, thus making our solutions more tailored to business owners."