Most British consumers (59%) now expect to engage with small businesses online, via channels such as email, live chat and social media.
A new study by Fasthosts Internet found that 40% of consumers were more likely to buy from a small company if they can contact them on Facebook and Twitter. More than half (56%) said small businesses in general need to respond to online enquiries more quickly.
In the study, 37% of consumers said they expect replies to online queries outside normal office hours, even from the smallest businesses. Almost half (48%) believe that for a small business to be useful to them, it needs to offer support outside 9-5 hours. Overall, 53% said they would buy more from small businesses if they were available online in the evenings or early mornings.
It seems that on the whole, consumers are enthusiastic about supporting small businesses: 58% said they were ‘more able to champion’ businesses in their local area, and 51% said they would pay a higher price for goods from a small business if they offered superior expertise or support.
Claire Lewis, Marketing Director at Fasthosts, said “There is clearly much potential for business owners to use the web to share their expertise and drive awareness and enthusiasm for their offerings. The challenge is to align a small business with modern shopping patterns and continue to respond to new expectations for convenience and timeliness.”