Alibaba Survey Shows Digitization Strategies are Paying Off

Digitized businesses reported higher levels of optimism, stronger sales performance, larger anticipated investments and more global exports.

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Today, unveiled the results of its third U.S. B2B Small and Medium Business (SMB) Survey, which captured current SMB insights and sentiments 

Results from the latest survey of 2,401 U.S. SMBs conducting B2B business found:

  • Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) are optimistic about the economy, which surpassed the pre-pandemic level of 62 percent, despite the current supply chain, inflation and labor market challenges.
  • Many are also expanding their digital commerce and exploring international channels.
  • About half (47 percent) of U.S. B2B SMB trade is now through ecommerce, a nearly 12 percentage point jump in two years.
  • 70 percent of SMBs are conducting international B2B trade, compared to 59 percent in December 2019. 

Digitized businesses reported even higher levels of optimism than their offline peers, bolstered by stronger sales performance, larger anticipated investments and more global exports. According to the report, digitized SMBs outperformed businesses that are still operating offline in terms of sales and sourcing, with 61 percent of digitized businesses seeing increases in sales in 2021, compared to just 34 percent of those who are not online. Additional findings included:

  • Digitized businesses are more likely than non-digitized businesses to make investments in 2022, including hiring more full-time employees (48 percent vs. 32 percent) and increasing capital expenditures (49 percent vs. 33 percent). 
  • 39 percent of digitized businesses expect to grow exports in 2022, versus just 13 percent of those who rely on offline channels.
  • 91 percent of digitized businesses are confident in the future of their business, compared to 80 percent of non-digitized businesses.  

“We saw nearly two decades of change take place in early 2020 as business owners pushed to get digital amid the global health crisis and now, two years later, it’s clear that their flexibility and grit has paid off,” said John Caplan, President of North America and Europe of “Our proprietary research into an important and growing segment of the U.S. economy finds that getting digital is critical to success, with digitized businesses far outperforming in sales, exports, and investments versus those still operating offline using analog tools and processes. These trends are accelerating the success of U.S. SMBs as they leverage the tremendous digital tools and infrastructure available with to make it easy to sell and source globally.”

During the quarter that ended on December 31, the Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of transactions completed on grew around 50 percent year-over-year. Revenues for the business unit grew by 29 percent year-over-year, particularly the value-added service revenue (up 43 percent year-over-year), which includes services such as global logistics and Trade Assurance. 

Full SMB survey results are available here

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