Helping to keep real and virtual business doors open

3-minute read
To help understand how online habits and demands have changed as a result of COVID-19, we recently commissioned the nbn™ Behavioural Change Survey.
When times are at their toughest – like the upheaval and uncertainty recently brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s often when we get to see the best in people.

Like the way Australians have been going out of their way to consciously support local businesses, especially online, to help keep real and virtual business doors open well into the future.

To help understand how online habits and demands have changed as a result of COVID-19 – like attitudes and behaviours towards local businesses – we recently commissioned the nbn™ Behavioural Change Survey.

Commissioned by nbn and conducted by Venture Insights, the research also explored the online changes and demands to working from home, and lifestyle and health – and which are likely to continue as part of the ‘new normal’.

And the feelings towards those businesses? The research clearly shows a groundswell of support for ‘buying local’.

"And the feelings towards those businesses? The research clearly shows a groundswell of support for ‘buying local’."

Buying local here to stay

While, of course, recent times have been far from rosy for many businesses, the research suggests there’s opportunity for Australian businesses to strengthen their online presence to offer customers new ways to access their products and services.

Seventy per cent of those surveyed revealed they now consciously support local businesses online, while 49 per cent of respondents’ households have increased online shopping during the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, 70 per cent of those surveyed would like to do more to support local businesses but felt they had a limited online presence.

“The challenges businesses have faced as a result of this crisis are many and significant,” says Paul Tyler, nbn's Chief Customer Officer – Business.

“However, this research highlights a unique opportunity for local businesses to harness new levels of consumer goodwill and demand online.

“An online presence can expose businesses to a world market, but the support of local consumers also offers an important opportunity.”

Developing a stronger online presence, adding innovation to product and service offerings, and providing home delivery were among the top strategies selected by those surveyed that local businesses could adopt to make it easier for their communities to support them.
"... this research highlights a unique opportunity for local businesses to harness new levels of consumer goodwill and demand online."

One million and counting

With one million business customers now connected to the nbn™ network, the ability to ‘buy local’ is being helped along by fast broadband.

“Our research highlights that consumers are shopping more online and consuming from local businesses as a result of their experience with COVID-19 social distancing measures,” says Paul.

“We hope that this sentiment can become an opportunity for local businesses to adapt and emerge from this time in a position of strength.”

Similar research conducted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) reveals many businesses are already adapting their operations and making the shift to online.

“Our national business conditions survey found that many businesses have adapted their operations to continue trading during the pandemic crisis, with almost a third expanding their online presence,” says James Pearson, Chief Executive Officer at ACCI.

And a quarter of businesses have changed their mode of delivery or have diversified into new product lines and services.

“It’s certainly encouraging to hear that so many Australians are eager to support the local businesses in their community, and this should provide even more incentive for businesses to adapt.”

This research was undertaken by Venture Insights on behalf of nbn. The research took place in April 2020, and was completed on 28 April. 1,006 respondents aged 18+ completed the survey and they were proportionally spread across ACT (2%), NSW (31%), NT (0.5%), QLD (20%), SA (8%), TAS (2%), VIC (26%) and WA (10%). 77% of the respondents belonged to a metro area, and 23% to a regional area.