Research + Insights
Small business recovery looks brighter through digital lens
New study finds digital upgrades essential for small business success, post-pandemic
Check out the 5th edition of our Visa Back to Business global study to better understand how the significant changes to consumer shopping habits and digital trends could have a lasting impact on small business for years to come.
Amy Wanderley Britt had no shortage of ideas for growing her small business Pig & A Jelly Jar, a Southern-inspired diner. People flocked to each of her three locations across Utah for brunch favorites like double-battered chicken and waffles and Pride Punch. But when the pandemic hit and the line at the door faded away, she shifted online to close the gap, launching an ecommerce offshoot called WB’s Eatery. “I know how to build restaurants,” said Amy. “This was completely new territory.”
From brick & mortar to ecommerce
Amy’s wife, Vivi, a marketing pro, stepped in to help grow the online lifestyle brand, which sold gift boxes of locally made goods like CBD oils, coffees and homemade jams. “I told Vivi that I don’t understand how I’m supposed to pivot and get into ecommerce. This is more difficult than trying to figure out where to put a storefront and how to build a marketing campaign to sell waffles,” she joked. “As a small business owner, you don’t know what questions to ask or even where to go.”
Vivi reached out to her network and made the switch to Authorize.net, which got her up and running with online payments in less than two weeks. “For us,” said Vivi, “ecommerce allows us to scale beyond Utah without having to rely on our brick-and-mortar locations.”
Many small and micro businesses (SMBs) in the U.S. sought new revenue opportunities by shifting online and accepting digital payments for the first time during the pandemic. It sometimes made all the difference between shutting down for good and surviving, even thriving. In fact, just one year ago, 17 percent of SMBs in the United States started selling products or services online for the first time. Today, that number has risen to 57 percent, according to a Visa Back to Business global study, now in its 5th edition.
Vivi and Amy have since made a B2B play by marketing the boxes to corporations for client gifts as a new revenue stream. “It really is trusting your gut and paying attention to how the world is moving and what your customers are wanting — that’s how you run a business,” said Amy.
The way people pay has changed
The Visa Back to Business global study, which surveyed SMBs and consumers in nine regions around the world, found that 68 percent of consumers say COVID-19 has permanently changed the way they pay. Curbside checkout, ecommerce and contactless ways to pay (via card or mobile pay) have all gained favor with consumers over the last 18 months. Small business owners show a ray of optimism too. While 54 percent of SMBs say the past year has been a challenge for their business, 46 percent have viewed it as an opportunity, up from 38 percent in November 2020.
“We’ve pivoted from hiring chefs and servers to hiring entrepreneurs, trailblazers and innovators who want to help grow this company and scale it,” added Amy. Employees have gone off to start their own businesses during the pandemic with Amy and Vivi’s support, including pop-up events like Wigs and Pigs Night, a drag show/game night/trivia gathering hosted by a former Pig & A Jelly Jar employee and a banana bread company that uses their restaurant jams. “Our business is very inclusive in its intention because we come from a place of kindness” adds Amy.
Visa has made a multi-year commitment to digitize 50 million SMBs worldwide, so far reaching an estimated 16 million small and micro businesses (SMBs) like Pig & A Jelly Jar worldwide just this summer. For more information about programs available to small and micro businesses, visit the Visa Small Business Hub and the Visa Small Business COVID-19 support site.