A new report shows French small businesses that adopted digital technologies sooner and more aggressively during COVID-19 reported hiring 18X more employees during COVID-19 than more digitally skeptical businesses. Digitally Driven: Europe, a study commissioned by the Connected Commerce Council (3C) in conjunction with Google and Greenberg, of more than 5,000 small businesses including 600 in France, provides a clear correlation between early and committed digital tools adoption and more customers, better revenue, and more hiring during the pandemic. The report shows that the Digital Safety Net — free and low-cost small business services that support communications and collaborative workflow, digital marketing and advertising, websites and social media, back-office tools, and e-commerce and online payments — provides strong support for French small businesses and positions them for more success in a post-COVID economy.
“Digitally Advanced” small businesses, those that embraced digital tools the earliest and used them the most, only lost 20% of their revenue during the pandemic, compared to the least prepared “Digitally Uncertain” businesses, which saw revenue drop 29%.
“This study highlights how digital preparedness made businesses stronger during a crisis that crippled France’s economy,” said 3C President Jake Ward. “Digital Safety Net tools are helping small businesses survive the pandemic, and they make business owners more confident of long-term success after life returns to normal. The Digital Safety Net is real and is important. Policymakers, tech companies, and small business advocates must ensure that small businesses have access to digital small business tools, and to education and training so they can be stronger and more likely to thrive long into the future.”
The report finds 37% of French small businesses are Digitally Advanced, meaning they see digital tools as critical to their business model. Digitally Evolving small businesses (45%) value digital tools but are not fully committed to them, and 18% of small businesses are Digitally Uncertain. If all Uncertain French small businesses were Advanced, the report predicts they would generate 7.94 billion Euros in additional sales and over 1.2 million new jobs.
Additional findings include:
- 62% of French businesses felt comfortable with digital tools prior to the pandemic.
- 76% of French businesses increased their use of digital tools during the pandemic.
- 42% of French businesses plan to use digital tools even more after the pandemic ends.