Small-Business Owners Not Fazed by E-Commerce, Technology

  • 20% of owners say they compete with large e-commerce retailers
  • 68% say shift to e-commerce does not have much impact on their business
  • 50% see need for new technology as a plus; 6% as a negative

U.S. small-business owners for the most part say the increasing shift in the business marketplace from brick-and-mortar stores to online commerce is not negatively affecting them. Just over two-thirds of owners interviewed as part of the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index say the trend toward online business is not having an influence on their business either way. Among those who say it is having an effect, about as many owners (15%) say it is helping their business as say it is hurting their business (16%).

Most Small-Business Owners Not Worried About Impact of E-Commerce
One of the major trends in business today is the shift from in-person, brick-and-mortar stores, to retailing conducted online. Would you say this shift is helping, hurting or not having much impact on your business?
Helping your business Hurting your business Not having much
impact on your business
% % %
15 16 68

These results are from the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, conducted July 11-18.

Although about six in 10 small-business owners say that at least a small percentage of their business is conducted online, only two in 10 perceive themselves as actually competing — at least at this point — with large e-commerce companies and retailers.

The results, broadly speaking, show that the disruptive change e-commerce is bringing about is not a net negative for the nation’s small businesses. The finding that 15% of owners say e-commerce is helping their business shows that some have been able to take advantage of the trend, perhaps by finding new customers not available to them previously.

Owners do anticipate that more of their business will be conducted online in the future. Twenty-two percent of owners say more than a quarter of their business is currently transacted online, but 32% expect that to be the case within the next five years. Still, even with a five-year time horizon in mind, the majority of owners project that a quarter or less of their business will be online, including about a third who say none of it will be.

Increasing Percentage of Business Will Be Online in the Future
What percentage of your business is conducted online now/will be conducted online over the next 5 years?
Now Over the next 5 years
% %
None 40 31
1% to 10% 26 19
11% to 25% 11 16
26% to 49% 5 6
50% or more 17 26


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