Study finds small businesses struggle to adopt technology

Martin Desmarais | 6/16/2014, noon

Nearly 90 percent of small businesses have an online presence, but only 20 percent of them can sell products and services online, according to a new study by MasterCard that explored the challenges and opportunities related to small businesses and technology adoption.

The study of small business owners around the globe, which was conducted by Global Insights, found that the two biggest barriers to adopting retail and payment technology were high costs (46 percent) and a lack of know-how (31 percent).

The research also uncovered industry and regional differences for small businesses and technology adoption. For example, hospitality and restaurant businesses invest a larger portion of their revenue (on average 8.1 percent and 11.8 percent more respectively) than retail and personal services sectors.

Technology adoption patterns varied widely for small business around the world. For example, on average, 56 percent of Canadian and Brazilian merchants use smartphones to assist in running their businesses, while only about 32 percent of German and South African merchants do the same.

According to the study, the gap between smaller-scale merchants and the domination of mega-retailers presents challenges for technology providers, banks and governments who work with smaller merchants. But in identifying common goals and cooperation, these partners can develop solutions for smaller merchants to help them close that gap, the study concluded.

Findings also highlighted a concern that smaller retailers and their customers would be increasingly excluded from the advantages of a “cashless economy.”