A year after the first lockdown, finding customers online tops list of small business priorities

Half of small businesses will stick with eCommerce even after the pandemic ends  

Toronto, March 22, 2021 – Small business owners say their online presence (51 per cent) and selling online (38 per cent) has been essential to their survival through the pandemic. As a result, connecting with customers online is the top focus for small businesses in 2021, along with paying down debt and improving their websites, shows new research conducted by Maru/Matchbox on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Google Canada.

Canadians will be able to shop from many of these businesses online even after the pandemic ends—half (48 per cent) of all business owners say they plan to sell online post-pandemic. Only two percent of businesses are going to turn away from selling online after lockdowns and social distancing restrictions end. 

“Small businesses have adapted to new ways of reaching customers and selling their products over the last year, and it looks like the digital strategies they are adopting will be permanent,” said Mandy D’Autremont, CFIB’s senior director, member experience and strategy. “Still, it can be hard to make a digital strategy succeed when you are competing with giant corporations with digital marketing departments and big advertising spends.” 

While only one in four small businesses that will be selling online post-pandemic say the driving force for them to continue with eCommerce is because it has been a success for them already, the top reasons to sell online post-pandemic are about potential revenue growth and enhancing competitiveness. The main challenge these businesses are facing is attracting customers online (40 per cent), so they are looking for advice on how to elevate their online presence, as well as improve their social and digital marketing. 

To help small businesses reach customers online, Google is launching an all-new version of Grow My Store, a free tool that improves a website’s customer experience. Businesses can request their free Grow My Store report, which will assess their site performance, discover how it compares to fellow retailers in their industry, and provide tailored advice on where they can improve.
“Building an online presence helps Canadian small businesses reach customers beyond their local communities, allowing them to compete in the global economy,” says Karen Godwin, Director Google Customer Solutions, Google Canada. “As websites become the flagship store for many businesses, Grow My Store is a free tool that will help Canadian small businesses find and attract new customers online, and provide them with personalized recommendations to improve their experience for customers.” 

Read CFIB’s full research backgrounder, Small Business Prioritizing Digital in 2021, for more information.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB
Wendy Manton, Google Canada

Data Sources:
In January 2021, Maru/Matchbox surveyed 1,010 Canadian business owners and business decision makers on behalf of CFIB and Google, from various sectors using the Maru Voice research panel. Fielding took place between January 20-29, 2021. The sample was balanced by region and business size (number of employees) to achieve a representative sample and the median LOI was 14 mins. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error of ±3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.

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Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. As a global technology leader, Google's innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world. Google Canada has offices in Waterloo, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa with over 1,500 Canadian Google employees working on teams across Engineering, AI Research, Sales and Marketing.