Digitisation a key driver of small business success
A survey of more than 1,000 Australians conducted on behalf of NBN Co, has revealed close to half (49 per cent) of respondents had increased their online shopping during the pandemic shutdown period and 70 per cent are consciously supporting local businesses online, demonstrating the breadth of Australia’s digitisation.
The research, conducted by Venture Insights, revealed a groundswell of support from consumers wanting to ‘buy local’, highlighting an opportunity for Australian businesses to strengthen their online presence and offer new ways for people to access their products and services.
Developing a stronger online presence, adding innovation to product and service offerings and providing home delivery were selected as the top strategies local businesses could adopt to make it easier for people in their communities to support them. Consumers also valued regular communications from local businesses.
Commenting on the findings, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said that while an increasing number of people are looking to shop local, more than two-thirds of respondents said even though they would like to support more local businesses, they were restricted by the limited digital presence of those businesses.
“COVID-19 has delivered a harsh lesson that small businesses can’t rely on outdated business models and brick-and-mortar stores anymore,” Ms Carnell said.
“Digitisation is now essential for a small business to be truly competitive."
PwC modelling recently estimated that small businesses could unlock more than $49 billion of private sector output over a decade by adopting better use of mobile and internet technologies. More than half of this benefit could be realised in rural and regional Australia.
“The recent Buy from the Bush campaign is an excellent example – in just four months, the 275 regional businesses profiled saw an average revenue increase of 300 per cent. The campaign delivered $5 million to those featured small businesses – all of which had an online presence," said Ms Carnell.
“Equally, new research for the Shop Small campaign, revealed about a third of shoppers surveyed feel comfortable with returning to shops even though COVID restrictions are easing. It’s clear as we enter this new normal and live with this virus, having an online presence is critical for small businesses."
She noted that the most common roadblock to digital adoption has been not knowing where to start and fear of technology. To curb this problem, Ms Carnell has suggested an array of online resources.
“There are a number of online workshops that offer good tips to small businesses. In particular, my office has supported the free Grow with Google sessions that cover everything from managing your business remotely to helping your business stand out online," Ms Carnell advised.