Digital shift paying off for SMEs

digital evolution, tech

New research reveals that almost two-thirds of the nations’s SMEs 63 per cent believe that the shift towards digital operations they’ve made in the past year will benefit their business long-term.

Salesforce’s fifth edition of its Small and Medium Business Trends Report also found that the majority of SME leaders believe many of the operational changes they’ve made over the last year will become permanent. These include contactless services such as secure digital payments (39 per cent) and digital customer service (33 per cent). It also noted that the shift to omnichannel isn’t going anywhere either, with almost a quarter (22 per cent) of SMEs permanently offering mobile orders and 17 per cent continuing to offer curbside pickup post-pandemic.

The report also noted that 62 per cent of SMEs in ANZ have increased their online presence over the last year and 57 per cent say they could not have survived the pandemic using technology from a decade ago. In particular, growing SMEs have accelerated their investments in technologies across customer service (51 per cent), sales (46 per cent), and marketing (45 per cent).

Globally, 23 per cent of growing SMEs started using e-commerce software for the first time in the past six months, while 28 per cent have expressed that they will continue to offer e-commerce offerings post-pandemic.

“Whilst running a small or medium business has never been easy, the challenges over the past 18 months have made it harder than ever before,” Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Businesses at Salesforce, said. “What this research tells us is that digitisation is critical for both resilience and growth.

“Those business owners and leaders that embrace technology and accelerate innovation are better placed to meet rising customer expectations and create meaningful connections,” Luck added. “As businesses navigate a post-pandemic world defined by digitisation, those who don’t make those digital investments now will be left behind.”

The survey is based on the responses of 2534 SME owners and leaders from North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, and was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce between 21 June 21 and 12 July 2021.