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Direct Line Insurance : SMEs go digital despite high streets reopening

09/16/2021 EDT
SMEs go digital despite high streets reopening
4min read
16 Sep 2021
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  • Over half of retail SMEs (52 per cent) say they've either introduced new technological services or ramped up their digital presence since March 2020, with 85 per cent set to continue even after high streets have reopened
  • Half say they're committing to digital services because they want to reach new customers, while 43 per cent have done so because of soaring consumer expectations
  • Online ordering systems and deliveries (27 per cent) are the most popular services to digitise, reflecting how retail SMEs are responding to changes in consumer behaviour
  • Worryingly, nearly seven in ten retail SMEs (69 per cent) haven't invested in cyber insurance to help protect them and help them get back up and running in the event of a cyber attack

A digital revolution is underway among retail SMEs, according to new research from Direct Line business insurance.1

Over half (52 per cent) have either invested in new technological services or ramped up their online presence since the beginning of the pandemic.

Eighty-five per cent are sticking with the new digital services or products they introduced, demonstrating how Covid-19 has permanently reshaped the small business landscape.

The revolution is showing no signs of slowing down either, despite high streets having reopened. Over half (52 per cent) plan to increase their digital presence over the next six months or introduce bold new virtual offerings.

This is because technology is now seen as fundamental to business success. Half (50 per cent) made these strategic decisions because it allowed them to reach new customers, while 43 per cent did so because they believe that customers have higher expectations of a business' digital journey after Covid-19.

The pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits dramatically, with eCommerce booming. Not surprising, then, that when it comes to their technology strategies, small retail businesses are prioritising online ordering systems and deliveries (27 per cent) to ride the wave.

Digital marketing (16 per cent) is the second most common area of technological change, as SMEs seek to connect with consumers who are still staying away from the high street.

Table One: Top digital services to be introduced or increased by small retail businesses over the next 6 months

Business service or offering Percentage of small retail businesses that will introduce these services

Online ordering systems and deliveries

27 per cent

Digital marketing, e.g Google Ads (Pay Per Click), Social marketing, Search Engine Optimisation or Email Marketing

16 per cent

Digital supply and stock management

14 per cent

Consumer smartphone apps

12 per cent

Digitisation of administrative processes

11 per cent

Digitisation doesn't come cheaply. Research we carried out last year found that to rapidly adapt to Covid-19, a quarter of small businesses spent between £1,000-£5,000 on launching the new digital service or product offering. 2

With businesses investing so much to digitally transform their businesses, it's worrying that nearly half (46 per cent) of senior decision makers at small retail businesses are completely unaware they need to let their insurer know they've moved some of their services online.

Equally concerning is that only 23 per cent have invested in cyber insurance to help protect their business and get them back up and running again in the event of a successful cyber attack.

45 per cent of decision makers at small businesses don't feel that cyber security is a risk to their business while 27 per cent are totally unaware of how important the cover is.

Jane Morgan, SME Product Manager at Direct Line business insurance, said:

"Small businesses responded admirably to the challenges of COVID-19. And it's great that they're continuing to adapt by stepping up investment in digital services - whether that involves continuing to move their products online or introducing innovative online marketing methods.

"But it's worrying that so few have taken out cyber insurance to help protect their business and recover their finances, systems and reputation in the event of a cyber attack. This has the potential to devastate an SME and completely derail digital progress.

"Our comprehensive cyber insurance provides cover for the cost of fixing a cyber issue, restoring systems and data and investigating a data breach. It also provides businesses with expert advice and support, ensuring they're not alone in the event of an attack."

Additionally, in the event a business is held responsible for a data breach, it can help with costs of fines and compensation, if insurable under applicable law.

For more information about Direct Line - Business' cyber insurance, please visit our website:

For tips on how to protect yourself from cybercrime, please see:


Notes to Editors

(1) Opinium survey of 500 SMEs outside of London working in Cafes, Retail Trade or Tourism, 4th - 9th August 2021

(2) Opinium survey of 506 small business senior decision-makers, 24th-30th July 2020

For further information please contact:

Direct Line Group
Unni Henry
Email: [email protected]

About Direct Line business insurance

Launched in 2007 Direct Line business insurance now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line business insurance and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line business insurance products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk


Direct Line Insurance Group plc published this content on 16 September 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 24 September 2021 08:41:02 UTC.

© Publicnow 2021
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