Small Saudi businesses went digital during COVID-19 pandemic

Small Saudi businesses went digital during COVID-19 pandemic

Small Saudi businesses are quite agile in adapting to the trying times of 2020. Twenty six percent (26%) of Saudi entrepreneurs increased their digital marketing activities to attract more customers.

Nearly a third use their current online presence to sell goods or services. Eighty-four percent (84%) are sure that their business could survive a second wave of COVID-19 as big as the first one, according to the GoDaddy 2022 Entrepreneur Survey.

The survey also revealed that 86 percent of SME respondents consider digital adaptation to be very important towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030; which envisions a sophisticated digital infrastructure to boost fundamental competitiveness of the Saudi economy.

The quantitative report also studied the effects the global pandemic had on entrepreneurs and small business owners in Saudi Arabia. It stated that thirty four percent (34%) of small Saudi businesses intend to sell their products and services through social media platforms in 2021. A third of the respondents also said that they plan to set up an official website for their business.

Selina Bieber, senior regional director for Turkey and MENA, GoDaddy, said, “The GoDaddy 2020 Entrepreneur Survey clearly shows the ways; in which entrepreneurs and small business owners in Saudi Arabia have been impacted by the global pandemic over the last year.

“In line with current global trends; we have seen the shift towards having an online presence and the importance of the use of technology; as a solution and a coping mechanism for these businesses to stay active as well as engaged with customers.”

DIY vs. Professional

The survey highlights that twenty-five percent (25%) of respondents said that, pre-pandemic; they managed the technology needs of their business themselves. While twenty-five percent (25%) said they had a friend or family member do it for them; while only a fifth had a web developer/professional manage their technology needs.

National Support for Entrepreneurs

Findings from the survey indicate that 4 in 5 entrepreneurs feel that there is a good mix of online tools and resources available for small businesses, which allows them to easily digitize their business. Three out of four agree that the Kingdom is a good hub for small businesses.

“We are glad to hear that the majority of small businesses feel that there is a variety of options and online resources available to them; which allows them to go digital. GoDaddy is also committed to supporting small businesses owners and entrepreneurs in starting and growing their digital footprints, by providing an Arabic Website Builder and EStore tool to help drive growth for their business,” Bieber also added.

Ethics, Diversity and Community

Finally, the survey concludes that nearly a half of the respondents agree that practicing business ethics and values is a major contributor to a business’ success in the long term, with eighty-nine percent (89%) believing that business ethics and values are very important to their company/brand, in regard to how they operate internally and while working with customers and vendors.

Eighty-four percent (84%) of entrepreneurs consider workforce diversity to be very important for their company. Similarly, fifty-three percent (53%) agree that it is a part of their company’s purpose to positively impact the local community.

About the Entrepreneurs

Over half of the respondents were already employed when they decided to become self-employed; with over sixty percent (60%) being first-time small business owners. Nearly a third of small businesses use their current online presence to sell goods or services.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of entrepreneurs already had a company website, with 3 in 5 intending to build one soon; given the current circumstances and customers’ inclination towards e-purchases. Since the onset of COVID-19, amongst those who have an online presence, forty-five percent (45%) increased and improved their customer communications to keep them informed about the change in services and how they are responding to the challenges.