China's small and medium-sized enterprises with a strong focus on technology and digital capabilities are expected to recover comparatively quickly from the COVID-19 epidemic, and a great majority of them plan to launch new products or services this year, a new report said on Monday.
A strong focus on improving technology and digital capabilities will be essential to support small businesses navigate the challenges from the contagion and aid their recovery, according to the annual Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey conducted by CPA Australia, one of the world's largest accounting bodies.
Small businesses from China are the most likely to innovate, with 93 percent of the respondents indicating that they will or intend to introduce a new product, service or process this year, the report said.
Raymond Zhu, member of CPA Australia East and Central China Committee, said amid the public health crisis, small and micro enterprises should make full use of the existing preferential policies to boost digital and intelligent development.
Zhu said that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology had launched a series of industrial policies to help small businesses enhance their technology and digital capabilities, thus helping them in work restarts.
"While trying to minimize the losses, companies should make a long-term plan on technology and digital strategy. For instance, process automation can increase efficiency," Zhu said.
Kevin Ng, member of CPA Australia North China Committee, said the survey results indicate a clear link between adoption of digital technologies and strong business growth.
"There are likely to be more opportunities for companies in sectors such as remote offices, online education, online medical care and online entertainment," he said.
The survey tracked responses from over 4,000 small businesses in 11 markets across Asia-Pacific. There were 772 respondents from five cities in the Chinese mainland: Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The report said that despite challenging conditions in 2019, 81 percent of the surveyed small businesses from China reported that they grew and 57 percent of the small businesses increased employee numbers.
The organization said China's small businesses must make full use of government relief measures, focus on improving cash flows and financial health, and keep abreast of technology trends such as the development of 5G technologies.
Among the surveyed markets, small businesses from China continue to be leaders in earning revenue from online sales, adopting new digital or mobile payment methods and using social media for business purposes.
For example, 86 percent of surveyed small businesses from China earned over 10 percent of their revenue from online sales, and 91 percent of businesses generated more than 10 percent of their sales through new payment technologies, the report said.