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Research. How small businesses are remodeling their work

The responses to the lockdown, the new narrative, the new dynamics of relationships and sales: the reaction of small companies of excellence to the Coronavirus crisis

Turin, May 21, 2020

by Redazione Romana 

It is an Italy full of stories of micro-entrepreneurship that has continued to give its best, respecting the regulatory restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus crisis. And it has done so by devising innovative solutions and remodeling its business through digital levers, exploiting an ally that is increasingly valuable today: the Internet. 

#RestartItalia, the stories

Three young innovators in the Monteverde district of Rome have created Daje Shop, a small neighborhood Amazon, to help local commerce. Also, from his stone Mulinum in San Floro, Calabria, Stefano Caccavari responded online to Italians’ sudden demand for flour by delivering parcels with no shipping costs and with sourdough as a gift, reaching peaks of over 500 orders per day. Furthermore, some have converted part of their production into ISS certified face masks, one example being the social cooperative Progetto Quid, which specializes in the creation of clothes and accessories from surplus fabrics, employing over 85% female staff and over 60% from vulnerable areas. Similarly, there are others like Berto Salotti in Brianza and FridaBike in Milan who have been able to withstand the market downturn as a result of past investments they made in e-commerce.

Moreover, creative companies like Vigne Mastrodomenico have transferred physical experiences to the virtual world; she organized virtual wine tastings from the barrel in Cosenza to her customers around the world. Also, Maglificio Angorelle di Prato has added value to e-commerce with the availability of a personal shopping consultant via video call. Surviving the market without forgetting your community, customers or countrymen, is the way Evo Pricing has been operating. Evo, a leading company in predictive analysis, has offered its services free of charge to its customers to help them situate themselves in the market during such a difficult time. In addition, Sfera Agricola di Gavorrano in the province of Grosseto has donated its hydroponic tomatoes to the less fortunate. Then, back in Turin, Roberta Balotti offered her Apartments To Art to doctors and nurses. “Within the new normalcy created by the Covid-19 crisis, which rewrites habits and relationships, the digital isn’t just an accessory anymore, but a multiplier of opportunities. This is an added value in doing business, central to the reorganization of the supply chain, to the redefinition of processes, to the rewriting of narratives, to the redesigning of markets. Moreover, in the new era of social distancing, smartphones have become new travel and shopping companions,” explains Giampaolo Colletti, founder of the job community of workers of the network.

#RestartItalia, photography with data

This is certified by the #RestartItalia research carried out by the job community of workers of the network with the support of Pmi Innovative Tree, in partnership with Agia – Associazione Giovani Imprenditori of Cia-Agricoltori Italiani and GammaDonna, using a sample of over 400 small and medium sized companies, professionals, artisans and farmers. A survey to listen to those small businesses that make Italy great and capture the response of the global microbrand production system towards the crisis and the critical situation. As a result of the cyclone that hit small businesses, there was a multitude of reactions to the crisis: 31% maintained just a few production lines, 16% converted their supply chain for a specific product or service, leading to a change in their business model.

However, compared to 24% who did not change, 27% had to close their businesses and comply with regulatory restrictions. More than 70% of the entrepreneurs interviewed agree that innovation and digitization are the key ingredients that have enabled their companies to cope with the crisis. The main thing that emerges from this situation is a change in the use of communication channels. And as a result, a change in sales. This was the case for 42% of respondents, with most choosing to embrace social media (87%). This was followed by e-commerce (39%), WhatsApp instant messaging chat report, Telegram, Facebook Messenger (32%), YouTube video creation (16%) or live streaming video (32%). In rare cases, the implementation of projects related to virtual reality (2%) or gamification (1%). Among the reinforced social networks in the redefinition of work were Zuckerberg’s apps, led by Facebook (93%) and Instagram (72%). There are new pages to write, despite everything. The prevailing feelings were similarly those of opportunity (33%) and disorientation (27%). However, within the nuances, there was also courage (14%), anxiety (11%), fear (9%). Micro-enterprises that communicate with the local community in question, also provide answers: most of them have undertaken actions to support and reassure their employees (64%), more than half have undertaken activities for the benefit of their community (51%).

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