Many SMBs are ramping up their digital presence following lockdown

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To tackle changing consumer expectations during lockdown, many retail SMEs are ramping up their investment into digital technologies.

This is according to a new report from Direct Line business insurance, which claims more than half (52%) either invested in new tech services, or increased their online presence in these past year and a half.

Almost all retail SMEs (85%) also said they’d be keeping the digital services and products they introduced during the pandemic. Half (52%) said increasing their digital footprint in the next six months was already in the pipeline, with a sizeable number promising to introduce “bold new virtual offerings”. 

The report claims that retail SMEs now see technology as “fundamental” to business success. Some used it to reach new customers, while others wanted to meet rising customer expectations. 

Online delivery and digital marketing

Of all the different things they’re tackling, retail SMEs are mostly focused on online ordering systems and deliveries (27%), and digital marketing (16%). These changes weren’t cheap, either. The average SME spent between $1,300 and $6,900 to launch a new digital service or product.

The findings also echo a recent Salesforce report, which polled 2,500 SMB owners and leaders across the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific, discovering that going digital helped 71% of SMBs survive the pandemic.

Salesforce’s report says most successful SMBs worked on gaining customer trust and enabling their employees to work remotely. Almost three-quarters (72%) have an e-commerce presence, with a third (35%) adding it within the past year. 

At the same time, 95% of growing SMBs made sure their company data, including customer information, was safe from cyberattacks. Direct Line business insurance’s report speaks differently, though, saying 45% of decision-makers didn’t feel cybersecurity was a risk to their business. 

As a result, the report claims, only 23% invested in cyber-insurance.

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.