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70% of consumers now want to shop local, but SMBs lack digital presence

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says new research is proving once and for all that digitisation is a key driver of success in small businesses.

survey of more than 1000 Australians conducted on behalf of NBN Co, has revealed close to half (49%) of respondents had increased their online shopping during the pandemic shutdown period and 70% are consciously supporting local businesses online.

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But 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“COVID-19 has delivered a harsh lesson that small businesses can’t rely on outdated business models and brick-and-mortar stores anymore,” Ms Carnell says.

“Digitisation is now essential for a small business to be truly competitive.

“PwC modelling estimates 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%. The campaign delivered $5 million to those featured small businesses – all of which had an online presence.

ABF media

“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.

“We’ve found the most common roadblock to digital adoption has been not knowing where to start and fear of technology.

“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.

“We are also backing Kochie’s Business Builders’ Small Business First campaign, offering small businesses a free online directory listing, learning hub and community forum as they work to get back on their feet in these challenging times.”

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