Benchmark Bytes: What Online Business Functions Do SMBs Demand Most?

As part of the ritual of examining local commerce and SMB Saas strategies, Localogy goes right to the source: SMBs themselves. How do they feel about marketing and operational software? What features do they want? And how has their hunger changed during a global pandemic that has hit local businesses hardest?

Localogy’s Modern Commerce Monitor (MCM) wave 6.1 answers these and other questions across the SMB SaaS product set, which we preview in this Benchmark Bytes series. After the last installment examined online services that resonate most among SMBs, we switch gears to look at their projected near-term adoption.

First, among SMB survey respondents who don’t use online services for business operations, 65 percent plan to do so. And among those who already use online services, 75 percent plan to do so more in the future. These data were gathered in January and February so have some Covid-influence in terms of adoption drivers.

What types of online services/tools do SMBs plan to adopt specifically? Payroll and other human resources lead the list with 52 percent of responses. That’s followed by CRM (41 percent), finance and operations solutions (38 percent), supply chain services (36 percent) and marketing & advertising solutions (26 percent).

Localogy members can access full charts and SMB survey reports.

What Does it All Mean?

Going a bit deeper, a few things jump out at us:

— First, these data are on a category-basis so don’t speak to any specific providers, but they do provide some insight on which functional areas are in the greatest demand to scratch the SMB SaaS itch.

— Payroll and human resources solutions’ leading position on this list isn’t surprising. SMB SaaS functions tend to do well when they are core/critical business functions such as payroll.

— This need is exacerbated in the Covid-era as managing employees remotely is better served by online tools as opposed to traditional methods.

— The same mission-critical status exists for other top scorers such as finance and operations, as well as supply chain services.

— Conversely, the lowest-scoring function on this list is marketing and advertising solutions, which is more of a “nice to have” when compared to operational functions like payroll.

— Somewhere between those endpoints is CRM. It scored second-highest on this list, as it continues to gain traction among SMBs.

— CRM is core to both sales operations as well as ongoing customer service, given its ability to optimize customer information.

— On the other hand, CRM software is known to be inherently frustrating to use (especially for tech-averse and time-starved SMBs). The fact that it’s in high demand despite that challenge is a strong sign.

— In terms of timing, SMB online services/tools adoption is imminent. Most respondents (42 percent) said their adoption will be within 6 months. 26 percent say it’s within a year and 20 percent say 1-2 years.

Time to Shine

Stepping back, SMB online services adoption tracked by MCM continues to grow rapidly.  SMB SaaS startups and online services providers are correspondingly thriving with exit velocity, funding, and public-market performance. SMB SaaS is becoming a leading subsector of the broader SaaS universe.

Meanwhile, new SMB SaaS users could represent permanent adopters — a concept that’s accelerated in the Covid era as SMBs are forced to boost their digital transformation. This sends them into the arms of SaaS providers to accomplish a range of operational and marketing functions.

We’ll return in the next installment to go deeper on other pandemic-driven areas of SMB technology adoption. That will include top goals and what types of SMBs are adopting. Let us know what additional insights jump out at you from the above data, and stay tuned for more breakdowns in our Benchmark Bytes series.

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