Digital Main Street Partner Spotlight: How Google is committed to helping small businesses get online and succeed
As a founding partner of Digital Main Street, Google has been instrumental in helping small businesses across Ontario get online and become more competitive. This includes helping launch and expand our ShopHERE powered by Google program.
Q: How does Google Canada work to support small businesses?
A: For over 20 years, Google has been committed to helping small businesses succeed, whether that’s through our products like Search, Maps and Google Ads, or through free workshops and training with programs like Grow with Google. The pandemic made us pause and think about how we could further support Canadian SMBs. While COVID was challenging for several businesses, it particularly weighed heavily on SMBs, who employ 90% of our private sector, and account for 98% of businesses in the country. Although SMBs play such a critical role in Canada’s economy, they didn’t have the digital infrastructure in place to operate online during the pandemic. To help bridge this gap and get Canadian SMBs online as quickly as possible, we committed one million dollars to expand Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE powered by Google program nationally, and launched free tools and resources like our Small Business Hub, Grow My Store and Local Opportunity Finder to help SMBs build out their online presence.
Q: What changes have you seen this year with respect to SMBs and digital adoption?
A: Pre-pandemic, we saw that only one out of five businesses in the retail sector were selling online. Fast-forward a year later and things have changed dramatically. Canadian eCommerce has almost doubled over 2019, making Canada the second fastest growing eCommerce market worldwide. The lockdowns pulled forward adoption — and Canadian SMBs reacted and got online swiftly. Through the ShopHERE powered by Google program alone, we’ve seen over 25,000 Canadian SMBs sign up for the program. It’s encouraging to see Canadian SMBs get on board and really understand the opportunity an online presence holds.
Q: Are there any trends you would want to make sure an SMB owner was paying attention to?
A: We’ve seen consumers across the globe rally behind and support small businesses. Google searches for “support local businesses” grew by over 20,000% since last year. As businesses and communities reopen and recover, we know online shopping behaviours are here to stay: 42% of Canadian shoppers want to check inventory online before going to the store and 41% of Canadian shoppers get ideas and inspiration for purchases online. So as we look to recovery, it’s more important than ever that businesses continue to build out their online presence. We’re also starting to see increased searches for ‘in stock’, and ‘curbside pickup,’ which tells us that convenience reigns supreme for today's shoppers. They may want to be able to buy a product online as soon as they find it, or see if the store has stock available for curbside pickup today. Even as SMBs reopen their storefronts, a lot of Canadians are starting their shopping journey online, so they should continue to focus on building out their online presence.
Q: What is one piece of advice above and beyond anything mentioned that you would want to provide for SMB's generally.
A: For small businesses, moving online can feel really daunting, especially when business owners are solely responsible for keeping their business afloat – they’re the CEO, CFO, CMO, CTO, you name it. Businesses shouldn’t try to do it all at once. You don’t need to build an online store, start a social media profile, set up your Business Profile on Google, build a YouTube channel, start email marketing, and change your cloud infrastructure all at once. And in fact, you shouldn’t. Start by taking one step into the online world, and that first step should be building your website. With eCommerce platforms, this has gotten easier than ever, and you don’t have to do it alone. Digital Main Street’s ShopHere Powered by Google program can help you get your website up and running in a matter of weeks.
Tristan Lee, Head of Small Business Marketing, Google Canada