New survey finds nearly 20 percent of U.K. micro-businesses set up online presence for first time, as they innovate to survive lockdown

5 min read
Thomas Costello
  • One-fifth of micro-businesses (those with under 9 employees) have set up an online presence for the first time [19%] and nearly half [48%] have improved their use of digital and social media tools [45%]
  • Micro-businesses continue to be far more resilient than previously feared, with 41% saying that if the lockdown continued, it would not impact their business
  • A majority of consumers [63%] say they are more likely to shop at small, local micro-businesses during the pandemic and 67 per cent of these will continue to do so even after the lockdown ends
  • If micro-businesses are able to resume normal operations as soon as June, many can bounce back sooner than feared, with 71% believing that would be able to recover fully in 6 months or less

(London, 23 April 2020) – GoDaddy Inc. (NYSE: GDDY), the company that empowers everyday entrepreneurs, today released data from a new survey which found one-in-five micro businesses (those with under 9 employees) have set up an online presence for the first time [19%], equating to just over 1m micro-businesses1. A further 45 per cent have utilised social media in a new way and nearly half [48%] have improved their online capabilities, as businesses move to digital and delivery to continue selling products and services to their customers.

Changes made so far are here to stay, as a significant majority of micro-businesses asked would keep the innovations they have initiated. Three quarters say they will continue using their new online presence after lockdown is over [82%] and two thirds [65%] will keep changes they have made to products and services.

Many of these changes have taken place in just four weeks, in order to adapt to the lockdown. Rye-based GoDaddy customer Knoops are expert makers in chocolate drinks and had just opened their first London store in Clapham Junction, with plans for a second London site opening in the summer. To innovate they have launched a new range of chocolate products online, as well as a hot chocolate machine called ‘The Knoopifer’ for customers to enjoy Knoops chocolate beverages at home.

Anna Chapman from Knoops says:

“Times are tough for everyone, including for micro-businesses such as ourselves. Like many others, we’ve had to innovate practically overnight to stay relevant in this new world, launching new products and services online so that people can enjoy Knoops in the comfort of their own home.

“Obviously we’re concerned about the impact a longer lockdown will have on the economy and our business in the medium-term, but right now we’re all having to get used to working from home and not being together in store.”

Their resilience is being helped by a significant shift in consumer attitude. A majority of consumers [63%] say they are more likely to shop at small, local micro-businesses to help them financially during the pandemic and of these, they will continue to do so even after the lockdown ends [67%].

This digital resiliency comes in the context of challenging circumstances, with a third [33%] suggesting that if there was to be another two months of lockdown, they would expect a 50% drop in sales, and 38 per cent would be pushed into greater debt.

Irana Wasti, GoDaddy Regional President for EMEA said:

“The pandemic has put extraordinary demands on the 5.6 million micro-businesses in the UK. They are vital to our economy and we have seen how resilient and determined entrepreneurs are to get through this - and for micro-businesses, it has meant nothing short of the second digital revolution, with a fifth moving their business online for the first time. 

The outbreak is accelerating change that GoDaddy has seen with micro-businesses for a long time, with a move to online and ecommerce products and services.

“We want to support our customers through this testing time and that’s why we set up our Open We Stand micro-site to help our community of customers.”

Many micro-businesses have risen to the COVID-19 challenge in admirable ways. GoDaddy customer Manchester Gin, a gin distillery in the North West have adapted their 1000 litre copper still, to produce hand sanitiser for their local NHS hospital.

Seb Heeley from Manchester Gin says:

“We’re so grateful to be able to play a small part in the tremendous effort that is being made to ensure the country gets through this. In these challenging times, we’re honoured to be able to adapt our business to help those in need.”

Another micro-business which has adopted a new digital approach to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis is The Summerton Whisky Club. The UK based Whisky Club is a subscription service, sharing rare and unique bottles with its members.

Daniel Humphrey from The Summerton Whisky Club says:

“In addition to the Club, we organise a whisky festival every year. We have been unable to hold the festival as planned but didn't want to postpone or cancel. We sought a digital alternative - so we have chosen to run a virtual whisky festival to ensure that whisky fans have something to look forward to.

“The response has been incredibly positive, and we will be running more virtual festivals this year. Whilst Covid-19 has been a challenge for us all, we have found that it is important to try new things. These are difficult times and people understand that, so are really supportive if you are trying something new.”

COVID-19 has put extraordinary demands on businesses. GoDaddy is supporting its micro-business customers in this challenging time through its Open We Stand campaign. This is a dedicated micro-site for small businesses and entrepreneurs with a library of resources – including articles, videos, how-to guides – to help them adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

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