As small and micro businesses (SMBs) worldwide continue to endure the financial impact of COVID-19, one thing is clear: rethinking the checkout or point-of-sale (POS) experience is essential for survival on Main Street. Visa (NYSE: V) recently released the Visa Back to Business study assessing this dramatic shift to digital commerce in response to the pandemic, driven largely by changing consumer expectations for a safe and touchless payment moment. According to the eight market study of both consumers and SMBs, nearly eight-in-10 consumers worldwide (78%) have changed how they pay in order to reduce contact and more than two-thirds of SMBs (67%) have tried a new approach – whether launching an eCommerce site or changing POS technology – to keep their business on track.
“Consumers are putting COVID-19 safety measures at the top of their shopping lists and rewarding businesses that do the same,” said Suzan Kereere, global head of merchant sales and acquiring, Visa. “Historically, we see behavior change at the point of sale as a gradual shift over time. But, COVID-19 has created an immediate need for safer, more efficient shopping experiences both on and offline and consumers are responding by rapidly migrating to digital commerce. We want small businesses to know that Visa is here to help them navigate these new consumer needs and expectations, which will make their businesses stronger now and in the long run.
Additional findings from the Visa Back to Business study conducted in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and UAE include:
Consumers Now Expect Digital-First Commerce
- Safety First Means Touchless: In each market surveyed, contactless payments have become a driving differentiator: nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers would switch to a new business that installed contactless payment options. For close to half of global consumers (46%), using contactless payment methods is among the most important safety measures for stores to follow. Nearly half (48%) would not shop at a store that only offers payment methods that require contact with a cashier or a shared device.
- SMB Optimism Vs. Consumer Realities: Despite the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, 75% of SMBs are optimistic about the future. Additionally, 71% of global SMB owners say they have received support from their local communities, with the most coming in the form of business referrals (33%) and favourable reviews (31%). An area for improvement: where consumers shop, as just 9% of consumers say they shop exclusively at locally owned businesses, whereas 15% shop exclusively at larger retailers, with a large mix of combined approaches falling in between these two extremes.
- New Normal Means New Habits: Nearly four in five (78%) consumers have made changes to the way they pay, including shopping online when possible (49%), using contactless payments (48%) and not using cash as much (46%). A majority (70%) of consumers have used a new shopping or payment method for the first time, including 26% who have used tap to pay for in-store purchases, shopping for groceries or household items online (34%), curbside restaurant pick-up (28%) and buying online then picking up in store (25%).
Small Businesses Take Action, Amidst Real Challenges
- Long-Term Outlook and Top Concerns: Globally, SMB owners estimate at least six to 10 more challenging months before their business is fully operational. Their greatest immediate concerns include revenue declines (52%), attracting new customers (46%) and having to reduce wages or salaries (22%).
- Pivoting to a Digital-First Mindset: More than a quarter of SMBs (28%) have tried targeted advertising on social media or sold products or services online (27%). Another 20% have adopted contactless payments. One-third (33%) of SMBs report they have accepted less, or stopped accepting, cash since COVID-19. Millennial SMB owners (41%) are significantly more likely to have accepted less or stopped accepting cash, compared to Gen X (31%) and Boomers (21%).
- On Guard Against Fraud: More than half (53%) of SMBs are likely to purchase a fraud management solution to help protect their business due to the shift to digital commerce.
Regional Insights: Tackling Challenges and Card Cleanliness
- Pivoting with new approaches: In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 44% of SMBs – compared to 20% globally – have enabled contactless payments for the first time since the start of COVID-19. Nearly 94% of UAE SMBs have pivoted to keep their business on track, compared to 67% globally. SMBs in Brazil (84%) and Hong Kong (87%) also are trying new approaches in large numbers, including selling online (50% in Brazil compared to 27% globally).
- Swipe? Then wipe: Two-thirds (67%) of consumers say they are taking some measure to keep their payment cards clean, with 33% saying they disinfect them. An overwhelming majority of UAE (89%) and Brazilian (87%) consumers are taking some measures to keep their card clean, whereas Singaporean (50%), German (53%), Canadian (60%) and Hong Kong (65%) consumers fell below the global average.
The Visa Back to Business study is the latest in a series of Visa initiatives to provide SMBs with the tools and resources they need to rebuild, or newly build, stronger businesses. More information on the programs and solutions Visa has made available to SMBs – ranging from its commitment to digitally-enable 50 million SMBs around the world and the IFundWomen grant program for U.S-based Black women-owned small businesses – are available on the Visa Small Business Hub and the Visa Small Business COVID-19 relief site.
Methodology: Visa Back to Business Study
The Visa Back to Business study was conducted by Wakefield Research between June 18 and June 29, 2020, among 250 small business owners at companies with 100 employees or fewer in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and UAE. Separately, the consumer portion of the survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between June 12 and June 29, 2020, among 1,000 Adults ages 18+ in the US, and 500 Adults ages 18+ in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and UAE. The data was weighted to ensure an accurate representation of adults ages 18+ in each market.