SMEs swiftly going digital within the wake of COVID-19

 SMEs swiftly going digital within the wake of COVID-19

At the COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively affect especially small company, new research by Mastercard around the impact on their operations shows SMEs nationwide have adapted swiftly towards the challenges by embracing digital commerce.

The study of 806 Australian businesses of their experiences and banking needs during the pandemic noted that 52 per cent accelerated their shift to e-Commerce sales in response to COVID-19, with 68 percent of these businesses going online within a week and 20 per cent able to make the change within just Twenty four hours.

In addition, many retailers shifted from cash to contactless card and digital payments within the wake of the pandemic. Mobile wallets, in particular, saw a surge in popularity, especially with organisations with 20+ employees where that preference rose by 23 percent. 17 per cent also asserted they had started taking or will continue to take mobile wallet payments in reaction to the pandemic.

Other changes made by businesses as noted in the report are
that 62 percent adopting strategies to rebuild sales, with 31 percent using
discounting for existing customers and 28 percent offering new customer
discounts. 25 per cent increased their digital marketing investment while 23
per cent delivered more personalised offers for existing customers as a means
of encouraging sales. Physical store operators also worked on providing a safe
shopping experience for customers, with social distancing (77 percent),
increased cleaning and disinfection processes (59 percent) and the adoption of
contactless payment methods (51 percent) being most commonplace.

Despite these changes, major concerns remain, with
brick-and-mortar retailers citing labour costs (33 percent), rental costs (31
percent) and increased price sensitivity from customers (27 percent) as major

“Australian businesses have faced unprecedented challenges amid COVID-19 but have shown fierce agility and resilience, with many able to migrate operations quickly and effectively to focus on digital opportunities,” Richard Wormald, Division President – Australasia at Mastercard, said.

“Businesses come with an incredible opportunity to improve the shopper experience online, and industry leaders have a part to play in helping business operators develop that expertise online, using digital payment technologies,” Wormald added.

“As consumers continue to shift toward digital payments, businesses everywhere are evolving their operations to attract their customers' new preferences. It's more essential than ever that SMEs around Australia better understand and expand their digital capabilities,” Sumit Khurana, Senior Principal, Data and Services – Australia at Mastercard, said.

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