Canadian Manufacturing

Pandemic fast-tracked digital transformation for Canadian small businesses: survey

by CM Staff   

Research & Development Small Business Public Sector

1 in 4 businesses say they're not confident they can survive the next six months

The Business of Change: PayPal Canada Small Business Study shows how dramatically the pandemic has impacted Canadian SMBs and how they plan to continue adapting. (CNW Group/PayPal Canada)

TORONTO — A new study by PayPal Canada, Business of Change: PayPal Canada Small Business Study, shows that the pandemic has accelerated digital commerce for Canadian small businesses.

Two in three small businesses (67%) accept payments online and half (47%) of them only started doing so this year. Of all small businesses selling online, one third (34%) turned to digital payments only after Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic in March.

Canadian businesses have lagged behind their U.S. and global counterparts in embracing digital commerce in previous years, but this study revealed a positive shift. The number of Canadian small businesses selling online spiked nearly 400 per cent in the last five years with the global pandemic being a major catalyst for merchants going digital.1

The majority of online small business owners (72%) believe e-commerce is now necessary in order to have a successful business. In fact, 69 per cent of online small business owners said selling online has made them more successful.


“The shift in small businesses embracing digital tools, technologies and sales channels has been phenomenal. This year, we’ve seen more movement on Canada becoming a digital economy than in the last five years,” said Nicole Watts, head of Government Relations for PayPal Canada, in a prepared statement. “Digital commerce is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity to survive given our new norm and changing consumer behaviour. In addition to these survey results, at PayPal, we have witnessed a three-fold increase in businesses across Canada signing up for our products and services.”

Being online was a matter of survival for Canadian entrepreneurs. Without the ability to sell online, 58% of small business owners said they don’t think their business could survive the impact of Covid-19.

More than half of small businesses have been negatively impacted by the pandemic (55%) and one in four business owners say they are not confident they can sustain themselves over the next six months (26%).


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