There’s no doubt 2020 has been a really tough year, testing the resolve of all Australian businesses and communities. Despite the challenges, though, we’ve seen some of the best of Aussie entrepreneurship and resilience. Lost in Books—a multilingual bookstore that temporarily moved online—is just one example of the many inspirational businesses that have adapted how they do things to continue serving their customers.
I’m sharing an update here on how Google Australia has been working to help business owners across the country with our tools and services, training and support—so they can get back up and running.
Supporting small businesses
There are millions of small businesses in Australia; they’re the lifeblood of local communities and critical to our economy. And as new Google Search insights show, Australians want to back their local businesses. In fact, searches for supporting local and small business are the highest they have been in a decade.
More than 1.3 million Aussie businesses are already using our tools and services to connect with customers and grow their businesses. But we know there are thousands more who could benefit from this support. It’s why our latest campaign focuses on some inspirational businesses that have adapted what they do to stay open and accessible for their customers—and where Google’s free services and tools are helping them, including Google My Business profiles on Search and Maps.
- Google My Business profile features which allow businesses to show any COVID-19 arrangements in place for customers. For example, food businesses are able to show if takeaway, delivery, or kerbside pick up is available (as highlighted in our awareness campaign business examples).
- We’ve made it free for merchants in Australia to list their products on the Google Shopping tab. And to help retail businesses better understand and respond to fast changing consumer preferences through COVID-19, we launched the Rising Retail shopper insights tool.
- After making Google Meet free for all Google Workspace customers earlier during COVID-19, we extended this to everyone so that people and communities could continue to stay in touch—and we’ve continued to add new features.
Growing digital skills
Research by Ipsos has found that while COVID-19 has dealt a heavy blow to small businesses across the country, those that already had strong online engagement have been less affected.
While 85 percent of small business owners claimed to have had revenue negatively impacted by the pandemic, those that did have digital tools and strategies in place (such as online profiles, mobile friendly websites and online ads) at least six months prior to the crisis fared better. These businesses were 13 per cent less likely to report a negative impact compared to businesses that implemented such measures only from the start of the pandemic.
To help Aussie business owners get the digital skills they need to keep their businesses operational in this new environment, we shifted to virtual online training through Grow with Google. Our online workshops alone have trained more than 20,000 Aussie SMBs since the start of the year—building on the more than 500,000 Australians we’ve trained in digital skills since 2014.
The next sessions will be held from 1-3 December and are free for everyone. They will cover topics like how to keep your customers updated through COVID-19, maintain an online business profile, and better understand what customers are looking for today.
We’ve also funded community organisations to do critical work across Australia to boost digital skills and opportunities. This includes providing support to Many Rivers through a global response and recovery program being coordinated by Youth Business International and funded by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, which will assist under-served small and medium businesses to respond to COVID-19. And it includes the partnership we’ve developed with Infoxchange, which is helping address Australia’s digital skills shortage and has provided face-to-face training for 10,000 people through the Digital Springboard program.
We want to continue to be there for Aussie businesses and communities by providing access to helpful—and in many cases, critical—online tools and services, so they can focus fully on the road to recovery.
Throughout a tough 2020, we’ve worked to make sure Australia’s small businesses can get the digital tools and support they need.