Rogers to Give Five Small Businesses $20K, Release National Survey Findings

Rogers Communications has launched a national contest today that will award five technology grand prize packages worth $20,000 each. The Rogers Small Business Big Idea Giveaway is also awarding ten secondary prizes worth up to $2000 each, to Canadian small businesses.

Small businesses under 100 employees can apply until October 5 by explaining in 350 words or less “how Rogers can give your small business a competitive edge to help achieve your big ideas.”

Grand prize packages include $5,000 in cash, up to 10 devices (including, but not limited to Rogers and BlackBerry smartphones and tablets), a “Professional Services Mobility Package” which includes a wifi kit, a three month subscription to a website building platform, a three month subscription to a loyalty program building platform, and more.

Rogers also released data from a national survey completed in early August gauging how Canadians interact with small businesses. Market research company Harris-Decima commissioned the study.

Above all, Rogers found that Canadians are loyal supporters of small business, but a generational divide and evolving customer demands could greatly impact this landscape. Baby Boomers and Gen-Y’s are both committed to supporting local, Canadian small businesses, but how they choose to interact with them is markedly different.

According to the study, convenience and personal service are the main reasons why 85% of respondents support small businesses, but significantly more younger Canadians (18-35) than baby boomers said that small businesses can benefit by offering online services to their customers. Fewer than 30% of baby boomers agreed with this sentiment.

“The research reveals that although the majority of Canadians are devoted to small business, generational demands are shifting what’s expected from them,” said Rogers’ Tess Van Thielen. “Providing a tailored customer experience allows small businesses to maintain customer loyalty and compete in a crowded market, but more than ever, younger Canadians want around the clock access to their local businesses through online channels and connected technology.”

Over half of younger Canadians feel that its important for small businesses to provide loyalty programs, an ecommerce website and that they should have a strong social media presence.

Baby boomers are actually the largest supporters of small businesses in Canada, as nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they support a small business once a week. General support for one’s local economy and a personal customer experience, however, are important to all Canadians.

64% of Canadians who engage with small businesses do so to support their local economy while 62% of Canadians feel a sense of pride when supporting a small business. Finally, 65% of Canadians feel that employees at local/small businesses have more knowledge about the products and services they carry. “Small businesses have an opportunity to engage with customers at any time by using the right technology. They just need to know where to start,” said Van Thielen.

On that note, this October the Rogers Small Business Team will present Rogers Talks, a national series of events that will bring together topic experts to share practical insights and tips with small businesses across Canada. Rogers Talks events will take place in Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver from October 28th to November 12th and are open to any small business owner or employee. Interested participants can visit the site here.

Rogers based their finding on a sample size of 1,437 online interviews from Canadians in all provinces and in all age cohorts. While this number wasn’t too impressive, the results presented indications that have recently surfaced in Canadian technology news: that increasingly more consumers and businesses feel that an ecommerce platform paired with a brick-and-mortar store is very important.

Last week both PayPal Canada and Ottawa-based startup Shopify unveiled fancy new solutions to allow ecommerce platforms to sell their products “offline.”

For extra costs Shopify can now provide its 65,000 merchants with iPad-based point-of-sale (POS) systems. PayPal Canada, meanwhile, is taking a hardware-independent approach. It announced an agreement with restaurant technology provider TouchBistro to allow customers to use their smartphone to check-in and pay with PayPal at cafés and restaurants at the POS.

“…the future of retail isn’t online versus in-store, it’s a seamless combination of both. Shopify has transitioned from simply powering online sales to powering all commerce: online, offline, mobile, and everything in between,” said Adam McNamara, Shopify’s vice president of product.

Coupled with the Rogers findings, one might infer that going forward, a strong small business sales approach will likely focus on online solutions coupled with brick-and-mortar sales. A seamless, streamlined approach between both online and offline approaches can continue providing the expert care and customer services that the baby boomers prefer, while still whetting the online appetites of younger Canadians.

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