Small businesses with ten employees or less are seeing slower sales since pre-pandemic times. This was the finding of a report by Skynova, online invoicing specialists for small businesses.
Skynova surveyed more than 1,000 professionals to find out how digital changes have impacted their business and employees during the health crisis.
Proficiency in Technology and Shifting Operations Online
The survey found that 37% of small businesses are most likely to have worse sales compared to before Covid-19 struck compared to larger companies. 63% of those surveyed within this size of business said they have not shifted operations online. 46% of businesses with fewer than ten employees identify as very proficient with technology.
Larger businesses with 50 – 99 employees are most likely to report better sales since pre-pandemic times. 81% of this size of business have shifted operations online. 60% of these survey participants say they are technologically proficient. These businesses are also most likely to have more staff since March 2020.
The findings of the survey provide important insight for small businesses as lockdown restrictions are eased and markets start to open. It shows the importance of being active online and being proficient with technology. Digital proficiency should not be confined to larger businesses. Small businesses should be proactive online to garner greater engagement with customers and ultimately make more sales.
As the authors of the report write:
“Despite pandemic pressure causing companies to go remote, companies with the highest digital proficiency were the most likely to increase their online presence. As technology proficiency decreased, so too did the likelihood of the company going online during the pandemic.
But not taking work online was detrimental to some companies’ success. While the most proficient companies saw the most significant increase in sales, the least proficient companies saw the most significant decrease in sales when compared to pre-pandemic times.”
Which Digital Channels are Small Businesses Using
The study also looked at the types of digital channels small and mid-size businesses are prioritizing in their online activity. 70% of professionals working for businesses with ten employees or fewer, said they are most likely to favor Facebook for the majority of their online presence. This was followed by YouTube (46%) and Instagram (36%).
Mid-size businesses with 50 – 99 employees favor Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 66%, 61% and 50% of participants say they rely on the channels the most respectively.
Digital Goals and Priorities
The research also explored the different digital goals of businesses, which varied by company size. 57% of respondents say that improving customer experiences is their primary digital presence goal. 45% say sales and marketing was their principal reason for being active online. Expansion and market growth were also hailed as leading priorities, alongside operations and service delivery improvement.
Large businesses with more than 500 employees were likelier to report service delivery improvement, talent sourcing and employee experience as priorities compared to small businesses. Businesses with fewer than ten employees deem improving customer experience, sales and markets, and new products and services as top online activity priorities.
Skynova’s research provides useful insight for small businesses as to what other small businesses and larger competitors are prioritising in terms of digital activity. It also shows the importance of adapting to new climates, in which a digital presence is gaining even greater value in maintaining relationships with customers. Failing to improve both technological and digital proficiency can be detrimental to small business success.