written by | September 15, 2021

COVID Impact: 99% of Indian SMBs looking to offer contactless services permanently

An increasing number of Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) are focusing on contactless payments, mobile orders, and digital payments with a substantial majority of businesses (83%) having at least some of their operations online, according to a ‘Small and Medium Business Trends’ Report.

72% of SMBs across the world have increased their digital presence in the last year, according to the global survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce, with 99 percent of Indian respondents planning to offer such contactless services permanently.

The survey was conducted among 2,534 Small and Medium Business (SMB) owners and leaders across various countries, including India. The businesses that were surveyed had their annual revenue under $1 Billion (or the local equivalent) and employed between 2-200 people.

Customer convenience and security remained the topmost reasons for shifting to contactless services like secure digital payments (78%), mobile orders (68%), and online customer service (62%). With 83% of respondents admitting to having some form of online presence like social media, websites, emails, and digital marketing, it comes as no surprise that 95% of these have switched to digital services in the last year alone, considering the worldwide economic shutdowns due to COVID-19.

Key Insights

  • The report revealed that most of the growing SMBs (71%) said that their businesses survived the pandemic because of digitization.
  • Effective use of technology has proved a game-changer for small businesses to help build their businesses and establish a foundation for future growth.
  • Three in five Small Business Leaders said that their company could not have survived the pandemic by using technology that was used by them 10 years ago.
  • More and more businesses are now investing in technology as tech usage has increased manifold especially since the onset of 2020.
  • CRM or Customer Relationship Management system is a clear winner for many SMBs for making the best use of remote working scenarios and providing efficient digital customer service experiences.

According to the survey, the top motivators for the growing use of technology and digital services include -

  1. Increasing productivity, with 62 percent of respondents choosing it as a motivating factor
  2. Improving business agility and growth, with 60 percent considering it as a distinguishing feature
  3. Increasing data security was an important factor for as many as 54 percent of the business owners surveyed

At least 59 percent of the SMBs interviewed said that they had expanded ways that the customers can reach them while 48 percent said that they valued deepening relationships with customers over one-time transactions.

It is noteworthy that India was ranked ninth in the Asia Pacific digital maturity ranking in a study conducted by Cisco of 1,424 SMBs in the Asia Pacific Region. Post the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of adopting digital channels was quickly realized by the small business owners so as to sustain their businesses and provide better customer service. In these uncertain times, small and medium businesses must leverage technology to enhance their digital presence and foresee challenges by taking operational shifts to keep moving forward.

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