Report: Switching to digital pays off in the long run for small and medium-sized firms

Serving customers safely, remaining competitive and taking into account the most important drivers of digitization for customer convenience, according to the SMBs Trends Report ANZ from Salesforce.

Salesforce, a leading CRM company, has released the fifth edition of its Small and Medium Business Trends Report, which shows that 63% of SMBs believe the digital-driven business changes they have made over the past year affect their business will benefit in the long term.

The report, interviewing 2,534 SMB owners and executives, including 152 from across ANZ, sought to find out how SMBs are accelerating their digital investments to meet customer needs, what the long-term benefits are, and why the companies that are doing it don't make it, layer stays behind.

It turns out that the majority of executives believe that many of the operational changes made over the past year will be permanent. These include contactless services such as secure digital payments (39%) and digital customer service (33%). The switch to omni-channel is not going anywhere either, because a quarter (22%) of SMEs offer permanent mobile orders and 17% continue to offer roadside pick-up even after the pandemic.

Key findings:

  • SMBs accelerate their digital investments to survive turbulent times: Almost two-thirds (62%) of SMEs in ANZ have increased their online presence in the past year and more than half (57%) could not have survived the pandemic with the technology from a decade ago. Growing SMEs have accelerated their investments in technology in customer service (51%), sales (46%) and marketing (45%).
  • SMEs foresee long-term changes as a result of the pandemic: During the pandemic, many SMB executives pondered strategies to keep their businesses afloat. The operation has become more efficient than ever. Globally, a quarter (23%) of growing SMBs started using ecommerce software for the first time in the past six months. More than a quarter of the SMEs in ANZ (28%) will continue to offer e-commerce offers after the pandemic.
  • Fulfilling customer expectations requires innovation: Globally, three quarters (71%) of SMEs say their customers expect online transactions, and almost the same proportion have an e-commerce presence (63%). At ANZ, the top three challenges in meeting customer expectations are bringing innovative offerings to market, keeping pace with customer demand, and responding to inquiries quickly.
  • The health and well-being of employees are a priority: As the pandemic continues, employees are raising expectations for new safety measures in the workplace. The three main expectations of employees are flexible working hours, daily hygiene of workplaces or materials, and social distancing at work.
  • Build trust in employees: As SMBs try to build trust after employees have been laid off or laid off for long periods of time, many are transforming employee engagement. The three most important ways in which SMEs can gain the trust of employees are transparent communication, responding to personal needs and requests for feedback.
  • Local authorities and governments advocate for SMEs: Due to pandemic-related closures, SMEs were still scarcer in terms of resources. Globally, nearly two-thirds of SMEs applied for financial assistance, including government programs, private loans and grants. In ANZ, more than a third of respondents said that financial support was vital to the survival of their business over the past year.

"While running a small or medium-sized business has never been easy, the challenges of the past 18 months have made it harder than ever," said Merlin Luck, Salesforce regional vice president of small and medium businesses.

“This study shows us that digitization is critical to both resilience and growth. Business owners and executives who advocate technology and accelerate innovation are better able to meet increasing customer expectations and make meaningful connections.

“Living Edge is one such example. By using Salesforce, their e-commerce experience has been optimized to now offer a more personalized and inspiring browsing experience. In the first month of going live, conversion increased by 290%. Contextual live chat was also provided – and 20% of all online revenue now comes from customers immediately after a chat engagement, ”said Mr. Luck.

"When companies move in a post-pandemic world shaped by digitization, those who don't make these digital investments now are left behind."

ANZ-level insights come from a larger global survey of 2,534 SMB owners and executives from North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce between June 21 and July 12, 2021.

For more information, you can access the data in the dashboards here.

About Salesforce
Salesforce, the world's leading CRM market leader, enables companies of all sizes and in all sectors to transform themselves digitally and create a 360 ° view of their customers. For more information on Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), please visit

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