Survey: 92% Of Small Business Have Pivoted Due To COVID-19
One of the hottest business buzzwords during the coronavirus pandemic has been “pivot” — the concept of businesses reinventing and shifting strategies. Turning this term into action has become a necessity for many as the sociological and financial fallout from COVID-19 has hit the entire world economy hard.
By the numbers, small businesses across the US have indeed embraced the pivot: 92% reported changing at least one aspect of their business since the onset of COVID-19, according to data from a recent survey that was released online last week.
The survey, conducted by software recommendation platform GetApp, also found that many businesses pivoted in “multiple ways.” Only 8% of the 577 small business leaders surveyed didn’t report altering their business model at all.
For 58% of businesses, pivoting has included incorporating “a new online delivery channel.” Other common tweaks mentioned in the survey include adding a new virtual service (40%), offline delivery channel (36%), or product (31%).
COVID-19 Necessitated Quick Pivots
GetApp specifically highlighted Asahi Imports, a small Japanese grocery store and delicatessen in Austin, Texas that quickly incorporated online shopping and curbside pickup to meet customer needs.
“With the pandemic, we had to act fast,” Asahi Imports owner Sally Matsumae said. “We had to scramble to get some sort of system that shoppers could use to tell us what items they wanted without having to step into the store.”
The survey also found that companies that have pivoted were three times more likely to report increased revenue. However, there are still challenges facing pivoting businesses. For instance, 22% reported that their staff lack the necessary skills for new approaches while 16% noted a scarcity of cash.
Despite any challenges, a whopping 96% of businesses plan to keep at least some of their changes, a finding that Matsumae agrees with.
“I think curbside shopping and home delivery are here to stay,” she said. “We’ve always wanted to do it and COVID just sped the process along.”
According to the survey, 43% plan to keep all changes, potentially indicating that pivots have proved successful for many small businesses. 81% of respondents were also bullish that Q3 revenue will beat Q2.
“Ultimately, what matters most is getting your business online — how you do it is less important,” Zach Capers, a senior content analyst at GetApp, wrote in the survey’s report. He later added: “Small businesses will need to continue innovating until customer behaviors stabilize.”
GetApp’s findings parallel other reports, such as those in The New York Times — in May, the Gray Lady covered several companies that utilized pivots in an effort to survive COVID-19. Elsewhere, The Washington Post reported over the weekend how small wineries are turning to virtual tools to thrive amidst the pandemic.
The ubiquity of the pivot has also seen the rise of tools aiming to guide businesses making much-needed shifts. In this vein, Merchant Maverick recently covered a new webseries dedicated to helping businesses find new ways of building revenue.
How Your Business Can Pivot
In its report of the survey, GetApp highlighted five areas where businesses can pivot:
- Online delivery channels. Turning to online marketplaces or taking orders via the web can provide brick-and-mortar businesses with a boost.
- Virtual services. Crafting a virtual version of a business’ existing services may potentially reach a wider audience, such as those who live further away.
- Offline delivery channels. Adding curbside pickup or home delivery provides customers with more convenience (and more safety during COVID-19).
- Designing new products. A new product can make up for lost revenue from existing streams.
- Targeting new customers. If a business loses revenue from one subset of customers, refocusing on a different group could make up some lost ground — such as commercial suppliers selling directly to consumers.
For more tips on how your business can handle COVID-19, check out Merchant Maverick’s guide to outbreaks and pandemics.