A report released today by the Connected Commerce Council (3C), in partnership with Google and conducted by LRWGreenberg, finds small businesses are optimistic about reopening their businesses, empowered and fortified by digital tools and services, and resilient in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
Digitally Empowered: How Digital Tools Power Small Businesses Amid COVID-19 found that during the COVID crisis 76% of small businesses are relying more on digital tools than before, and 74% of small businesses expect to be back to business as usual within six months of restrictions being lifted. Additionally, nearly one-third of businesses surveyed said that without digital tools they would have had to close all or part of their business during the COVID crisis.
“This report shows that in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic and economic crisis, digitally empowered small businesses are weathering the storm and optimistic about the future,” said Jake Ward, President of 3C, a non-profit membership organization representing digitally empowered small businesses. “Access to affordable, scalable, and secure tools is critical — now, more than ever. Small businesses drive the American economy, and they will drive the American recovery with the support of their communities and digital tools.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting quarantine, have upended millions of American small businesses and put the future of many more in jeopardy. The fallout has been swift, catching many businesses off-guard and unprepared. While this story is still evolving, the early data shows us that digitally empowered small businesses were able to adapt and in some cases thrive through the use of digital tools.
“When COVID first hit, it seemed like Armageddon for my business,” says Peter Stein, owner of Peeko Oysters in New Suffolk, N.Y. “In a previous age, it likely would have been. But digital tools allowed us to adapt and survive. Now, we have hope for the future again.”
Digital tools are categorized as enterprise-quality tools servicing small businesses. They include, among others, marketing and advertising tools like Instagram, YouTube, Google Ads and analytics; customer relationship management tools from Salesforce and Constant Contact; operations platforms from Quickbooks and Hubspot; and online marketplaces like Amazon, Shopify, and eBay.
“The kind of [online] sales we’ve seen [during the pandemic] are just orders of magnitude larger than anything we would have expected, said Charlie Meyer, owner of the Spice House in Evanston, IL. “There is no way we could’ve done so well if the company were not as digitally connected as it is.”
The report also found that:
Small businesses without a pre-existing e-commerce presence were twice as likely (31% vs. 15%) to have temporarily stopped operating during the crisis.
Small businesses that were using e-commerce tools pre-crisis are 5.5x (11% vs. 2%) more likely to project increased revenue in 2020 compared to 2019.
Women small business owners are substantially more likely to use digital tools than men, particularly social media (43% vs. 29%).
Over 80% of small business owners are interested in learning more about how digital tools can help their business in the future.
Digitally Empowered is based on a survey of 502 U.S. small business owners conducted by LRWGreenberg. The survey was fielded online from May 6 to May 18, 2020, among a nationally representative sample of 502 US small business owners in the following census-aligned verticals: Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, Educational Services, Accommodation, and Food Services, Other Services (other than Public Administration), Retail Trade, Wholesale Trade, and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation. Data were weighted to align with the known distribution of US small business owners in terms of business size, owner gender, race, and ethnicity, and region.
The Connected Commerce Council is a non-profit membership organization with a single goal: to promote small businesses’ access to essential digital technologies and tools. 3C provides small businesses with access to the market’s most effective digital tools available, provides coaching to optimize growth and efficiency, and cultivates a policy environment that considers and respects the interests of today’s small businesses.
LRWGreenberg (formerly Greenberg Strategy) is a research and strategy consultancy focused on helping businesses understand the WholeHuman® Experience inside and outside the organization. Our approach integrates patterns thinking, insight, and design in order to maximize companies’ value. We specialize in both qualitative and quantitative research around customers, brands, communications, products, and organizations. Headquartered in Emeryville, CA, LRWGreenberg was awarded Quirk’s Market Research Supplier of the Year in 2019. Learn more at www.LRWgreenberg.com.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Through products and platforms like Search, Maps, Gmail, Android, Google Play, Chrome, and YouTube, Google plays a meaningful role in the daily lives of billions of people and has become one of the most widely-known companies in the world. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.