A ‘Digital Safety Net’ has helped American small businesses during COVID-19. This research report and accompanying materials describe how and to what extent affordable and accessible digital tools have enabled many small businesses to survive and recover from the economic impact of COVID-19 – in some cases, becoming stronger and more agile in the process. Within the report you can find top-line findings, analysis and insights, and recommendations aimed at policymakers, technology companies, and small business leaders.
Digital Drivers are the most digitally-savvy, being early adopters and constantly deploying new technologies to drive their businesses forward.
74 or less
Digital Adopters, while fully embracing digital tools as important, have not deployed them to nearly the degree that Drivers have.
74 or less
Digital Maintainers are generally skeptical of digital transformation and use basic digital tools to maintain their current business.
74 or less
Projected Revenue Loss
Projected revenue loss by SMBs in 2020
(-23% to -25%)
19% to -22%
17% to -18%
12% to -16%
(5.26% to -11%)
There were widespread effects: 43% reduced their hours, 30% saw decreased customer demand, 28% had disrupted supply chains, and 20% laid off employees.
Not surprisingly, industries that rely more on in-person interaction such as Travel, Entertainment, and Food Services expect even greater revenue decreases of 20-25%.
Even among less technologically sophisticated SMBs, many are now using digital tools more, using them in new ways, and experimenting with new tools.
Goodr | Atlanta, GA
“What we found is that digital tools are the key to any small business. I also know we’d be out of business right now without our digital tools — no question at all.”
Most SMBs (53%) also plan to continue to use more digital tools in their business, even after the pandemic.
“Drivers” (35%) view digital tools as essential and used many pre-COVID-19, while “Maintainers” (24%) take the opposite approach. “Adopters” (33%) see the value but haven’t taken advantage.
The 2020 revenue projections of Driver SMBs are 4X higher than those of Maintainers, linking digital tool use to financial outcomes.
Pietro NYC | New York, NY
“The need for constant digital innovation was there before COVID-19, and today it’s even more critical.”
Without capital, businesses can’t stay open, much less innovate. And those without incoming revenue or savings had it much harder, typically turning to loans.
In addition, 45% of them view cost and uncertainty about return on investment as additional challenges to adopting them in their businesses.
That said, across all business sizes Digital Drivers anticipate better 2020 revenues – use of digital tools may counterbalance disadvantages of an SMB being tiny.
Studley’s Flower Garden | Rochester, NH
“Without digital tools I don't know how we would have been able to survive or be there for our community during the pandemic.”
The Connected Commerce Council is working to help small businesses, their employees, and their customers stay safe as we work toward recovery. To find the right tools to use and the resources you need - including the 3C Fund Finder tool - visit our site and our partner pages. We are in this together.Get more information
Using a suite of digital tools prior to COVID-19, this company doubled-down on its digital experience to pivot its offerings to match pandemic restrictions its customer base suddenly found themselves locked into.Learn more
West Jordan, Utah
For a quarantined country locked indoors and in front of computer screens, this company upped its use of online tools and social media to cater to an exploding customer base looking for a little extra comfort.Learn more
With an already quasi-remote workforce, this company leaned even more heavily into remote connectivity tools to coordinate scheduling, create new business offerings and offer crisis information.Learn more
Using a well-honed digital platform that diverts food to the hungry, this company created a whole new process—in the midst of the crisis—to connect grocery donations to struggling families.Learn more
Jacksonville Beach, Florida
When COVID-19 restrictions curtailed this community-oriented company’s customer base it focused on using digital tools to not only sustain that base but grow it significantly, as well as increase sales.Learn more
Finding opportunity in nationwide stay-at-home policies, which created a massive surge in its online sales, this company leaned into its experience with digital tools for a solution to meet the new demand.Learn more
When demand for this company’s services spiked to an almost overwhelming level, this company leaned on its already robust digital infrastructure to handle the load and validate its digital strategy.Learn more
Digital tools allowed this company to seamlessly implement social distancing protocols for company employees and keep them fully employed through the crisis. Its use of an innovative social media plan kept its customer base engaged.Learn more
New York, New York
This company used digital tools to change up its online marketing efforts to better meet its customer needs. It developed new digital payment options for buyers and branched out to other platforms it hadn’t used prior to the crisis.Learn more
This company leveraged its online experience to ensure its sales volume stayed steady as well as proving essential for communicating and maintaining its external customer relationships.Learn more
When COVID-19 hit, this company saw its e-commerce business rocket to the top of its revenue generators. Because they were already digitally “plugged in,” the company was able to modify its marketing to meet uncertain times.Learn more
New Suffolk, New York
Business skidded to an abrupt halt for this company when restaurants shuddered. Using digital tools, the company reinvented itself overnight with ‘door-to-door’ direct online sales to its customers.Learn more
New York, New York
This company shutdown when the crisis hit, but was nimble enough to pivot from making luxury leather goods to equipment for first responders. Digital tools showed them when demand for its leather goods was feasible again.Learn more
When revenue dropped to zero as the crisis hit, this hi-touch company began producing online educational content for its customers and saw a surge in blog traffic and marketing engagement.Learn more
Las Vegas, Nevada
When the crisis closed this company’s doors, digital tools opened others. From increased online sales to the creation of a whole new online community, this company recovered its losses and turned a profit thanks to its digital strategy.Learn more
From shifting brick-and-mortar operations online to employing laid off restaurant workers, this digitally connected company overcame several hurdles while helping out colleagues in a struggling industry.Learn more
Rochester, New Hampshire
When quarantine orders shut down foot traffic to this company’s store their e-commerce capabilities enabled them to quickly transition to contactless pick-up and delivery. Digital sales tripled over the previous year.Learn more
Charleston, South Carolina
COVID-19 was a ‘wake up call’ for this digitally driven company. It increased its reliance on digital even more during the crisis by expanding their e-commerce capabilities and social media presence with great success.Learn more
When the crisis hit, this company’s tight-knit customer base was looking for a familiar and comfortable product in unnerving times. When demand soared, the company relied on the digital tools it used to build the business.Learn more