A combination of the pandemic and economic uncertainty has caused an incredible amount of change in a short space of time for SMEs in the UK. This has been particularly apparent when looking at the role, and value, that subscription-based products play in the running of a company. As small businesses continue to grapple with the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis, subscriptions will be under closer scrutiny than ever before.
Whether it’s repeat packages, or subscription-based access to software or content – such as card readers, staff rota software, customer communication tools, stock management platforms or appointment systems – SMEs are facing tough decisions on which subscription services to keep and which to let go of.
Only those which can truly provide business value at the current time will prevail. However, there are plenty of benefits that SMEs can gain from using subscription services to help run their business. In fact, new research from Barclaycard Payments reveals that the popularity of subscription services amongst SMEs is still strong, with half (49 per cent) saying they currently use at least one to help them to run their business. Some of the key benefits, outlined in our data, include:
Small business owners are time-poor and, with smaller teams, they can often multi-task the roles of Finance Director, HR Director, Sales Director and Marketing Director. Subscriptions therefore help ease the pressure for many SMEs, with four in five (82 per cent) noting that subscription services save their business time by delivering products and services they need regularly, without having to place repeat orders.
Peace of mind
With several plates to spin at once, SMEs need to have systems in place that reassure them things are ticking over in the background. Subscriptions do just that, and the vast majority (84 per cent) of business owners say these sign-up services and products provide them with reassurance, because they know that important components of their business are being taken care of.
Over three quarters (76 per cent) of SME owners with a subscription say that these services help to manage finances at a time of rising costs. By having a regular, set number of outgoings per month, businesses can keep track of outgoings more easily.
Importantly, more than half (55 per cent)of small businesses who use subscriptions say that they would be “lost without them”.
The pinch-point for SMEs
There’s no denying that subscriptions add value to the running of an SME. However, whilst there are clearly many benefits to using them, every business is paying extra attention to their outgoings.
In light of the cost-of-living crisis, nearly half (49 per cent) say they are considering reducing the number of services they subscribe to. Four in ten (38 per cent) are actively looking to decrease the number of subscriptions they currently use, with the main reason understandably being to reduce their commercial running costs (39 per cent).
Investing in the right solutions
Overall, though, it’s clear that demand remains strong for subscriptions which make the lives of business owners easier and provide good value of money. On that basis, it is important that SME leaders consider the pros and cons of using particular services to help run their business, and are using the most effective tools to streamline their day-to-day operations.
One popular characteristic of subscription products with small businesses is integration. They want to use platforms that work seamlessly with others.