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Fortune Italia

SMEs and artisans responded to the lockdown by going to the net

Turin, June 2, 2020

The digital as a lever to get out of the impasse created by the lockdown and the coronavirus crisis. Most SMEs and artisans have responded to the crisis by relying on the world of digital innovation. This is the picture that emerges from 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 and GammaDonna, using a sample of over 400 small and medium companies, professionals, artisans and farmers. A survey to listen to those small businesses that make up the Italian entrepreneurial fabric.

The crisis has led to a variety of responses to the emergency: 31% maintained just a few production lines, 16% converted their supply chain for a specific product or service, resulting in a change in their business model. Although 24% did not change, 27% had to close their company 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 company to cope with the crisis.

The main thing that emerges is a change in the use of communication channels. Consequently, leading to a change in sales. This was the case for 42% of respondents, with the prevailing choice to embrace social media (87%). This was followed by e-commerce (39%), instant messaging chat reports on WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger (32%), the creation of YouTube videos (16%) or live streaming videos (32%). And 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 with Facebook (93%) leading the way and Instagram (72%). Despite everything, there are new pages to write. The prevailing feelings were similarly those of opportunity (33%) and disorientation (27%). Amidst these nuances there is also courage (14%), anxiety (11%), fear (9%). Micro-enterprises that interact with the local community concerned, also offered answers: the majority promoted actions to support and reassure employees (64%), more than half undertook activities that benefited the community (51%).

There are many beautiful stories of micro-entrepreneurship that emerge from the Wwworkers community. For example, in the Monteverde district of Rome, three young innovators have created Daje Shop, a small neighborhood Amazon to help local commerce. Also, Stefano Caccavari responded online from his stone Mulinum in San Floro, Calabria, to the sudden demand for flour from Italians by delivering parcels without shipping costs and with sourdough as a gift, peaking at over 500 orders per day. Similarly, others have converted part of their production into ISS certified face masks, like the social cooperative Progetto Quid, involved in the creation of clothes and accessories from surplus fabrics, employing 85% female staff with over 60% coming from vulnerable environments. Also, some have succeeded in withstanding the market downturn thanks to past investments in e-commerce, such as Berto Salotti in Brianza and FridaBike in Milan. Or those who have tried to transfer physical experiences into the virtual world.

For example, Vigne Mastrodomenico organized virtual tastings from the barrel in the province of Cosenza to its customers around the world. Moreover, Maglificio Angorelle di Prato has added value to the strength of e-commerce by providing advice via video call from a personal shopping consultant. Meanwhile, Evo Pricing, a leading company in predictive analysis, has offered its services free of charge to its customers to help them adapt to the demands of the market during such a difficult time to understand. Again, Sfera Agricola di Gavorrano in the province of Grosseto has donated its hydroponic tomatoes to the less fortunate. Also, Roberta Balotti has offered her Apartments To Art to doctors and nurses in Turin.

“In the new normalcy created by the Covid-19 crisis, which rewrites habits and relationships, the digital isn’t just an accessory anymore, it it is now a multiplier of opportunities. It is an added value in doing business, central to the reorganization of the supply chain, the redefinition of processes, the rewriting of narratives, the redesigning of markets. This is also because in the new era of social distancing smartphones are becoming new travel and purchasing companions,” explains Giampaolo Colletti, founder of the job community of workers of the network.

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