Nearly half of the UK’s small businesses say they need to upskill on digital to help them through the pandemic, according to a recent survey run by Lloyds Banking Academy and Small Business Britain.
The Small Business Recovery and Support Survey found 60% of small firms want help with marketing and sales, while over a third want to enhance their online sales/ecommerce capabilities.
Digital support service Superfast Business Wales has seen first-hand how the coronavirus has led to an upsurge in businesses asking for help to move products, services, and workplaces online, many for the first time, as the nation went into lockdown.
During 1 April 2021 to 31 May 2021, it delivered specialist advice to over 1000 businesses, with a further 5167 taking advantage of its free webinars.
COVID forced us to change how we worked
Having already taken the first steps of a digital overhaul before the pandemic struck, Smart Money Cymru Credit Union reached out to Superfast Business Wales for an objective review of what they had planned.
CEO Mark White explains: “We’d perhaps fallen behind a bit in terms of new technology over the last few years. But COVID-19 forced us to change how we worked.”
Vice Chair Geraint Jones adds: “We’d built a list of areas to focus on, but it was a huge advantage to get impartial advice from our Digital Business Adviser, Cath Padfield.
Our one-to-one session with Cath highlighted new areas where we could improve processes, plus it gave us the confidence to press on with the bits we’d already marked for changes.”
“Digital has made things cheaper and easier. If we're going to come out of the other side of this pandemic fitter and stronger, we need to have digital on our side,” White concludes.
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Digital increased our sales by 837%
A revised digital strategy instigated just before the pandemic and refined in the first three weeks, saw online sales for WoodenGold rise by 837% as customers spent 70% more on their average purchase.
“Understanding my customers and where they are active was the key. 90% of them reside on Instagram and have a ‘support independent traders’ vibe and this is what I wanted to tap into,” explains Stephen Cichocki, the niche artisan jewellery-maker behind WoodenGold.
Cichocki attended a digital marketing course, which Digital Business Adviser Pete Mackenzie helped unpick. He focused on WoodenGold’s customers; building their confidence in Cichocki and his products, as well as emphasising the purchasing journey across relevant digital platforms and the website.
Cichocki says, “From my experience with using Third Party sites like Etsy, I knew I had to build trust in me and my business, and Pete helped with that. He suggested using social media to showcase me, as a crafter of rings, as well as my products. The thought was this would drive traffic to my updated website, now based on Pete’s trust triggers and marketing principles, and designed to make it as easy as possible for my customers to buy.
“I uploaded videos on Instagram of me hand producing rings in the workshop to gain customer trust, then promoted website listings. I started with wooden rings priced at £60-£70 and followed this with more expensive items in silver or gold, reserving my most intensive social media effort efforts for high value gemstones.”
The strategy of building buyer confidence and enhancing his online offering worked. “The more expensive the product, the more time my customers spend researching and asking me questions,” says Cichocki.
“This approach is putting life into the business and crucially helps with the cash flow, he concludes.”
To find out more about the free support available, including webinars and tailored advice, get in touch with Superfast Business Wales today and start building your digital confidence.