How Prospective Buyers Shop for Small Businesses: A BizBuySell.com Report

BizBuySell
March 12, 2013

With rapid improvements in smartphone and tablet technology, Americans have changed how they shop for everyday goods and services. The same holds true in the business-for-sale marketplace, where mobile is enabling anytime, anywhere access to promising new business ventures.

San Francisco, CA - March 12, 2013 -- American consumers and business buyers are proving that they will use their mobile devices to shop for just about anything-including small businesses that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars or even more.

A recent study by BizBuySell.com, the nation's leading online business-for-sale marketplace, showed that buyers are increasingly browsing listings on smartphones and other mobile devices. An industry that once relied on time-consuming, in-person scouting and site visits to source opportunities now depends on online marketplaces like BizBuySell.com and their mobile sites to help prospective buyers narrow their search to a few, well-suited finalists.

According to the BizBuySell.com web traffic study, unique mobile visits increased 143 percent from January 2012 to January 2013. As a result, mobile visits now account for 28 percent of total unique visitors, up 88 percent from the same time last year.

The dramatic rise in mobile traffic demonstrates a surprising trend in the way buyers search for potential business acquisitions. While it's easy to envision consumers buying everyday products from their mobile devices, a small business purchase requires significantly longer and more thorough research. However, as mobile device interfaces, screen-size and processing speed improve, buyers are utilizing their smartphones and tablets to help them research interesting businesses from the field and from the comfort of their living rooms.

Tablet Traffic Share Doubles from 2012

Overall, tablet traffic growth increased even faster than smartphone traffic. In the past year, tablet unique visitors to BizBuySell.com, for example, rose 155 percent, compared with a 134 percent increase in smartphone unique visitors. Total tablet visits now account for 12 percent of total unique visitors, up 97 percent from the same time in 2012.

This rise in tablet use is likely attributable to the rapid adoption of these devices by individuals in the business community. Large numbers of potential entrepreneurs and business brokers have flocked to the tablet as a productivity tool and mobile workstation. Not surprisingly, much of the tablet growth originated from Apple's iPad. The number of unique visitors using iPads grew 146 percent year-over-year to account for 39 percent of total mobile traffic and over 90 percent of tablet traffic to BizBuySell.com.

Smartphones Still Dominate Mobile Visits

While tablet traffic experienced the largest growth over the past year, smartphones still dominate site visits among mobile users, accounting for 16 percent of all visits to BizBuySell.com. As a result, smartphone traffic now accounts for 57 percent of total mobile unique visitors, down 3.5 percent on a year-over-year basis.

The iOS platform again led the way in terms of smartphone devices. iPhone traffic accounts for 59 percent of total smartphone unique visitors and 34 percent of total mobile visitors. iPhone traffic rose 170 percent from 2012, the largest increase of any device. Meanwhile, Android device use, which accounts for 38 percent of smartphone traffic and 22 percent of mobile traffic, grew 112 percent in terms of unique visits to BizBuySell.com in the same period.

This business browsing data reveals an interesting difference between business buyers and the general public - namely that business buyers lean much more heavily to Apple products. Recent overall market share numbers from comScore show Android with a 53.4 percent share of the smartphone market and Apple with 36.3 percent. As mentioned above, these penetration rates are the inverse of what is seen within the business buying community.

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Unique Trends in Geography, Industry Searches

While mobile traffic increases represented the most significant change in the way prospective buyers are searching businesses online, several other interesting trends were revealed by the geographic and industry-specific data.

Businesses in Florida attracted more searches any other U.S. state. While Florida represents about 6 percent of the total U.S. population, over 10 percent of all BizBuySell searches were located in the state. The absence of a state income tax is likely one of the key reasons small business queries in Florida exceed what one would expect from its population in.

The remaining top five searched states were California (8.7%), Texas (6.4%), New York (4.5%) and, another small state with a disproportionately high entrepreneurial interest, Connecticut (4.4%).

In terms of top industry sectors, restaurants were the most searched business type, representing over 7.6 percent of all queries. Gasoline service stations were second with 6.6 percent of searches followed by convenience stores (6.2%), bars/taverns (6%) and liquor stores (5.9%).


About BizBuySell

BizBuySell is the Internet's largest business for sale marketplace. Since 1996, BizBuySell has offered tools that make it easy for business owners and brokers to sell a business, and potential buyers to find the business of their dreams. BizBuySell currently has an inventory of approximately businesses - spanning 80 countries - for sale at any one time and receives more than monthly visits. The site also features an extensive franchise directory as well as an easy-to-use business valuation tool. Please visit www.bizbuysell.com for more information.

BizBuySell was founded in 1996 and in 2012 became a division of CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ - CSGP) - commercial real estate's leading provider of information and analytic services. CoStar conducts expansive, ongoing research to produce and maintain the largest and most comprehensive database of commercial real estate information and offers a suite of online services enabling clients to analyze, interpret and gain unmatched insight on commercial property values, market conditions and current availabilities. For more information, visit www.costar.com.

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BizBuySell is the Internet's largest and most heavily trafficked business for sale marketplace, with more business for sale listings, more unique users, and more search activity than any other service.