June 16, 2021 (COLOGNE, GERMANY): A new report shows German small businesses that adopted digital technologies sooner and more aggressively during COVID-19 reported hiring close to 6X more employees during COVID-19 than more digitally skeptical businesses (vs. 3.3X Europe-wide). Digitally Driven: Europe, a study commissioned by the Connected Commerce Council (3C) in conjunction with Google and Greenberg, of 650 German small businesses, 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 German 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 26%.
“This study highlights how digital preparedness made businesses stronger during a crisis that crippled Germany’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 43% of German small businesses are Digitally Advanced, meaning they see digital tools as critical to their business model. Digitally Evolving small businesses (36%) value digital tools but are not fully committed to them, and 20% of small businesses are Digitally Uncertain. If all Uncertain German small businesses were Advanced, the report predicts they would generate 38.2 billion Euros in additional sales and 468,539 jobs.
Additional findings include:
- 78% of small businesses increased their digital tool usage during the pandemic.
- 53% of small businesses felt comfortable with digital tools prior to the pandemic (vs. 61% Europe-wide).
- 47% of small businesses plan to use digital tools even more after the pandemic ends.