SMEs lag behind in digital transformation

While French spending on the Internet continues to rise, less than 30% of SMEs offer an online sales solution, and only half are considering how to make the most of their data. Here's a closer look at the digital transformation challenges facing small and medium-sized businesses.

A positive perception of digital technology and its benefits

The France Num program is designed to support the digital transformation of VSEs and SMEs. Each year, the France Num Barometer surveys a significant sample of French small and medium-sized businesses from all sectors and regions. For 2023, the platform is based on a sample of 9453 companies, including 6110 VSEs.

The latest results published by France Num show that the perception of digital technology and related benefits by VSE/SME managers remains positive this year. Indeed, 76% of managers surveyed believe that digital technology represents a real benefit for their company, compared with 81% in 2022 and 78% in 2021.

Among the most frequently cited benefits are :

  • improved communication with and between employees or collaborators (59%),
  • simplified administrative management,
  • the possibility of developing new products or services.


Persistent obstacles to digital transformation

While 84% of companies use at least one online visibility solution, less than 30% have at least one online sales solution, with the merchant site remaining the most widely used solution. Several factors explain this lag in digital transformation.

The France Num 2023 Barometer highlights the areas in which digital technology is a source of uncertainty or fear for businesses. For example, the fear of data piracy has never been greater (50% of managers). In response, 61% have adopted a cybersecurity solution, 48% have invested in a CCTV camera and 44% in a cloud solution.


Another explanatory factor is the lack of in-house skills. " The majority of very small businesses have not recruited any digital profiles recently ", notes France Num.

Transport is also seen as a hindrance for small and medium-sized businesses, which are faced with rising transport costs and more scrutiny of the carrier's CSR policy. The new European CSRD directive, which requires these players to publish sustainability reports, will gradually come into force from January 1, 2024.

Finally, in the face of inflation, more and more consumers are resorting to fractional payments. On this point, most very small businesses are not yet ready to bear the risk of non-payment by the customer and the cost of the financial intermediary who will advance the cash.

As a result, VSEs and SMEs will have to continue their digital efforts to take advantage of the rise in the number of online shoppers (+0.5% in 2022) and the breakthrough in mobile purchasing (+2%).