Small businesses are adapting to the COVID world with a focus on e-commerce and digital transformation, according to a new study.

Fiverr, the platform which connects small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) with freelancers, analysed millions of searches from its business buyers over the last six months to identify trends in the needs of these companies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with stay-at-home orders around the world.

The study found huge demands for new technologies and tools to adapt to this new world, and a rapid increase in searches for new means of product delivery, software developers and video editing.

“2020 has without a doubt been a challenging time for small businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced worldwide stay-at-home orders and subsequent business shutdowns, from gyms to restaurants and hotels to bus tours,” the report said.

“On top of the usual challenges small businesses face of adapting to changing customer needs, it’s clear that over the past six months many have had to adhere to in-person closures and figure out how to successfully move their businesses online.”

The study showed that searches for “dropshipping”, a retail method using third-party suppliers where SMEs don’t have to keep any products in stock, increased by 319 per cent compared to last year, while those for “front end web developer” more than tripled.

“Small business owners understand the need to optimise their online sales, remote shipping and digital presence,” the study said.

There was also an 85 per cent increase in searches for “customer service”, with businesses looking to shift resources to providing quality service for their customers online.

Specifically in Australia, searches by businesses for “Youtube video editing” increased by 175 per cent in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital transformation

A significant trend in the data was a drastic increase in SMEs looking for tools and services to assist with an accelerated digital transformation project, Fiverr chief operating officer Hila Klein said.

“It has always been necessary for small businesses to stay on top of the latest technology and trends in order to remain relevant in the eyes of their customers,” Klein said

“In the current state of the world, for many businesses, we can see enhancing their digital presence and utilising services to support building e-commerce sites has skyrocketed, along with developing apps and websites and enhancing their social presence.”

The top 10 fastest growing search terms on the platform also included “Shopify promoting”, “product mockup”, “social media design” and “app development”.

In perhaps surprising news, the study also found an 85 per cent increase globally in searches for “brand name”, potentially indicating that new companies are still being launched despite the ongoing pandemic.

In the US, searches for “trademarks” more than doubled.

“On a positive note, with the increase in demand for brand names it seems likely that new companies are being born at this time,” Klein said.

The study also found that the drastic uptick in remote working has had a positive impact on real estate, with more people able to move from the city to the suburbs. There was an increased demand for socially-distant home buying technologies, such as real estate videos and editing.

Another recent study also found that Australians are turning to online courses in large numbers to improve their working from home techniques and increase productivity, particularly with using technology to communicate.