Technology Protects Half of Welsh Firms During Covid-19 Crisis

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Almost half (47%) of Wales’ microbusinesses would cease trading amid lockdown measures if it wasn’t for their ability to use digital services, according to a new report from Lloyds Bank and Be the Business.

The new 2020 Transformation With Tech research examines technology’s influence on business survival among the UK’s smallest firms during the COVID-19 crisis and highlights the digital skills and tech they now want and need for the future. It has found that in Wales almost a third (29%) of microbusinesses created an online presence for the first time – as they sought to keep trading through lockdown restrictions.

Of those already online, half (51%) of small local businesses say they’ve increased their online trade since the beginning of the crisis.

One business to embrace new technology was Cardiff’s JD Workshop Supplies Ltd. The business used the early part of lockdown to redesign their business with new digital tools that worked better for them. They invested in software linking to tablets and devices in various locations, helping staff to report problems in real time while making processes like generating invoices easier and less time consuming.

The study also found that on top of helping companies to keep trading, four in ten (39%) of Wales’ microbusinesses reported cost savings as a result of their adoption of new technologies. More than two fifths (43%) also credit the internet and digital technologies for helping to simplify their businesses.

While more than a third (35%) of Welsh microbusinesses found the volume of technology required to keep trading stressful, a similar proportion (39%) had also received support during the crisis to adopt new technologies from initiatives including the Lloyds Bank Academy and WeAreDigital – which provide online digital skills training across the UK.

Carys Williams, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Wales

Carys Williams, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Wales, said:

“I’m really pleased that so many of Wales’ small businesses embraced technology to help them adapt in the face of a sharp downturn in trading caused by stay-at-home measures.

“And while early signs show that the initial fire-break lockdown has helped to push down transmissions of the virus, it’s likely that more similar measures will be needed in the near future and so businesses will need to maintain if not increase their online digital services .

“It’s really important that those businesses struggling with digital transformation take advantage of the vast support available to them. In collaboration with Superfast Business Wales, the Lloyds Bank Academy is hosting a virtual seminar dedicated to the digital needs of Wales’ firms on the 1st of December. The session is completely free and all firms, organisations and charities are welcome to join.”

Levelling up tech capabilities

Across the UK, the number of businesses prioritising digital investment has doubled over the course of the pandemic. Almost half of Wales’ microbusinesses (46%) are now investing in digital systems, technology and skills. Many reported using digital tools and services for the first time, such as social media (16%), ecommerce (16%), online financial management (15%) and virtual meetings (13%) to keep their companies up and running. Nationally, those who were already utilising these online tools pre-pandemic are using them much more (33%) virtual meetings, (27%) ecommerce, (31%) social media and (21%) financial planning.

Nationally, at least two-thirds (66%) of those who have started using various digital services say they will continue to do so in the future. The online tools that are most likely to be continued to be used are social media (83%), online banking (83%) and virtual meetings (78%). The back office has also seen a much-needed overhaul – one in ten businesses have started using cloud software and 12% are now using analytics capabilities to better understand their customers.

For more information about the Lloyds Bank Academy event visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/125881098755