Canadian Manufacturing

A year after the first lockdown, finding customers online tops list of small business priorities

Half of small businesses will stick with eCommerce even after the pandemic ends

March 22, 2021  by CM Staff

Reopening for business adapt to new normal in the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.(Chansom Pantip/Adobe Stock)

TORONTO — Small business owners say their online presence (51%) and selling online (38%) has been essential to their survival through the pandemic. As a result, connecting with customers online is the top focus for small businesses in 2021, along with paying down debt and improving their websites, shows new research conducted by Maru/Matchbox on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Google Canada.

Canadians will be able to shop from many of these businesses online even after the pandemic ends—half (48%) of all business owners say they plan to sell online post-pandemic. Only two percent of businesses are going to turn away from selling online after lockdowns and social distancing restrictions end.

“Small businesses have adapted to new ways of reaching customers and selling their products over the last year, and it looks like the digital strategies they are adopting will be permanent,” said Mandy D’Autremont, CFIB’s senior director, member experience and strategy, in a statement. “Still, it can be hard to make a digital strategy succeed when you are competing with giant corporations with digital marketing departments and big advertising spends.”

While only one in four small businesses that will be selling online post-pandemic say the driving force for them to continue with eCommerce is because it has been a success for them already, the top reasons to sell online post-pandemic are about potential revenue growth and enhancing competitiveness. The main challenge these businesses are facing is attracting customers online (40%), so they are looking for advice on how to elevate their online presence, as well as improve their social and digital marketing.

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To help small businesses reach customers online, Google is launching an all-new version of Grow My Store, a free tool that improves a website’s customer experience. Businesses can request their free Grow My Store report, which will assess their site performance, discover how it compares to fellow retailers in their industry, and provide tailored advice on where they can improve.

“Building an online presence helps Canadian small businesses reach customers beyond their local communities, allowing them to compete in the global economy,” said Karen Godwin, Director Google Customer Solutions, Google Canada. “As websites become the flagship store for many businesses, Grow My Store is a free tool that will help Canadian small businesses find and attract new customers online, and provide them with personalized recommendations to improve their experience for customers.”


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