Bredin Report: What’s on SMBs’ Shopping List?

Although our research shows that SMB optimism is off its July 2017 peak, SMBs still have aggressive purchase and activity plans for 2019. And there’s a lot of sales potential for vendors in all kinds of categories, from banking and benefits to tech and telco.

First, here’s a quick look at what SMBs have:

Office technology dominates, with 92% of SMBs having one or more PCs, desktops or laptops, and almost as many having one or more printers. From there, though, penetration drops markedly. For example, of companies with fewer than 20 employees, only 54% have a business credit card, 43% have a web site, about a third have a health insurance plan or a line of credit, and a quarter have a retirement plan. Even among the largest SMBs, those with 100 to 500 employees, roughly 1 in 5 don’t have PCs, printers or business credit cards, and about a third don’t have a retirement plan. So regardless of company size, there is huge sales potential in the SMB space.

And what do SMBs plan to buy (or do) this year? Lots of things:

Of all the activities we surveyed, SMBs are most likely to ship an overnight package; 51% will this year. There’s good news for the travel industry; 44% will stay in a hotel on a business trip, 40% will fly for business, and 33% will rent a car for a business trip. There’s good news for printers, too; 42% will get something printed, like a business card or direct mail. 33% will upgrade their website (which is 75% of the 44% who have a website), while another 19% will launch one.

By comparison, SMBs have relatively low planned activity in the telecoms arena. For example, 21% plan to get new business cellphones, 20% plan to change or upgrade Internet access, 16% plan to change cellphone carriers, 15% plan to change landline service providers, and 14% plan to buy a new phone system. The areas with the least amount of planned activity are in some financial services – for example, 24% plan to apply for a loan or line of credit, 19% plan to change or increase business insurance, 17% plan to set up or change retirement plans, 16% plan to change or increase employee health or life insurance, and 14% plan to start using, or change to a new, payroll service provider. In every case, though, planned activity is higher to much higher among SMBs with more than 20 employees.

About Bredin

Bredin was founded in 1991 by America's foremost small business expert, author and syndicated columnist Alice Bredin. From its beginning, Bredin was designed to be a breed apart: 50% research consultancy, 50% creative agency, 100% focused on SMB. Based in Somerville, Mass., Bredin helps Fortune 500 companies understand, reach and retain SMB customers through timely, targeted research and award-winning marketing programs.