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Expanding online footprints can be the key for UK SMB success

(Image credit: Image Credit: StockSnap / Pixabay)

The UK's SMBs are looking to digital innovation in order to help them succeed in the post-pandemic world, new research has found.

A survey from Cisco looked at the priorities and growth opportunities for small businesses in the UK as they navigate a new hybrid world, and found that digital and tech solutions are vital for many.  

Overall, 40 percent of the UK SMBs surveyed say they would not have survived the pandemic without a digital presence, and more than half (54 percent) saw their future growth depending on increasing their footprint online, with many turning to ecommerce (opens in new tab) to supercharge their sales and expansion during the pandemic.

A similar proportion (51 percent) said they would look to increase their digital presence in the next 12 months - with a third (32 percent) even going as far as winding up or severely scaling back their physical operations to shift their focus entirely online.

Elsewhere, digital technology is also set to help support new working patterns for staff, with over a third (39 percent) of SMBs set to offer their employees greater flexibility to work from home than they did before the pandemic. 32 percent said that employees will be encouraged to minimise travel to help reduce their carbon footprint, helping boost company sustainability -  which 58 percent of bosses said was important to them. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and will be what fuels the recovery. For a large part of the year, if it wasn’t online, it didn’t happen – and for many small businesses there is little contingency for them to fall back on if they’re not able to make sales," noted Aine Rogers, Head of Small Business, Cisco UK & Ireland.

"While many small businesses were already pioneering in their use of tech, we’ve seen swathes make the move to be – in some cases – entirely digital. Many of our customers are looking to help simplify IT and help them work through what they want to keep from that model and how they use technology with intent rather than out of necessity.” 

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro, and has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and ITProPortal.