Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen how digital technologies have thrown a vital lifeline to small firms. Our UK-based research, that we carried out with Small Business Britain last year, showed that by July , more than half (51%) of businesses had moved online to overcome the trading barriers imposed upon them by the pandemic. Whether enabling staff to work from home, or setting up an ecommerce platform for the very first time, there’s no question that firms that have switched to more digital ways of running their business have fared better than those who are yet to embrace this change.
This research, that we carried out throughout the first four months of the pandemic lockdown with Small Business Britain, found that 45% of small firms started using new digital sales channels – such as ecommerce websites and social media tools – in response to the crisis. That transition has enabled them to diversify and enhance their business offering, with 45% developing new products and services, such as virtual consultations, takeaways, click and collect and deliveries.
For many firms then, the impact of the pandemic has proved to be a wake-up call to accelerate the digital transformation of their business. This needn’t be complex or expensive – if used in the right way, digital tools can improve processes and solve business challenges, transforming the outlook of a company for years to come.
The pandemic has also exposed a digital skills gap amongst small firms. During the initial stages of the lockdown, 34% told us that they needed more support in this area. However, it’s encouraging to see that there has been progress in this area over the latter stages of the crisis, with Small Business Britain finding in its January 2021 ‘Resilience Report’ that 58% of small business owners had increased their or their staff’s