When butchers had to shut their doors last year, Rum and Que, a family-run business specialising in producing quality meat rubs and sauces, saw their retail market drop considerably.

The Mind Lab and MBIE recognised that businesses might need a hand and had a few tools on offer to help businesses in these tricky situations and help them transition to doing business online.

One of these tools was Digital Boost, the digital training programme delivered by The Mind Lab and MBIE which is free for small businesses and now available as an app.

Like many small businesses, lockdowns made the Rum and Que team rethink their digital presence. After going through Digital Boost, they decided to take their website to the next level and integrate their digital platforms.

“Some of our sales have always been done through the butchers. They unfortunately had to close through some of the levels but some of our other retailers were able to stay open,” says Rum and Que owner, Matt Melville.

He says before the Digital Boost programme the company had a simple website, Instagram and a Facebook account. Thanks to the programme their website was rebuilt with an e-commerce function and the ability to pull content through from Instagram.

“That kind of linked everything up for us which was good. Getting on board with Digital Boost gave us a bit of clarity that what we were doing was good and showed us what we could add to make the website do a little bit more work for us as well.

“The modules they put online, plus the support behind it was amazing. There are some really cool videos on what businesses like ours should be looking at as well.”

Melville says he has noticed significant growth since using the programme.

“The website is working smarter for us now, we are definitely seeing the benefits of that with increased revenue, with business to customer sales seeing the whole retail price is quite nice.”

Since the launch of Digital Boost, MBIE has also measured an increased recognition of the importance of digital amongst small businesses. In October 2020, just 42% of all New Zealand businesses wanted to become more digital, whereas 83% of registered Digital Boost businesses becoming more digital was a high priority for their business.

MBIE’s Digital Boost director Malcolm Luey says the latest report showed that 20% more small businesses surveyed have a website since Digital Boost began in January 2021.

“We know the content is resonating. And now we want to make that content accessible to people who work more from their mobile devices. Digital Boost Live is designed to work for busy small business operators who need up-to-date digital information in the palm of their hand.”

The Mind Lab CEO Frances Valintine says her team is acutely aware of the pressures small business operators are currently facing with Covid-19 alert level fluctuations. In response, access to support via mental health support services, such as Clearhead, are now available to all Digital Boost users.

“More than ever, small businesses need to adapt to digital demands and our research confirms they know this too, with 83% of businesses surveyed indicating the importance of becoming more digital in order for their business to survive,” says Valintine, who is also the founder of the company.

Melville says that without Covid his business might not have got on board with e-commerce.

“Covid has forced a lot of businesses to change the way they behave. Digital Boost was right there at the right time for us.

“A big thing that was pushed from Digital Boost to us, is our story. All the big companies out there are a little bit faceless and that’s something that a small business has on top of those corporate businesses. I think it’s really important, more now than ever, to tell that story. As Kiwis spend more time in their country, and because of shipping problems, it’s a great time for us Kiwis to tell our story and let everyone know there is a bit of blood, sweat and tears behind everything.”