A fifth of Scotland’s small businesses have adopted digital technology to help them cope with the challenges posed by the coronavirus research has found.

A survey of members by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found a wide range of firms had used technology to boost sales amid the lockdown imposed to limit the spread of the virus and to help them increase efficiency.

READ MORE: Wild game specialist doubles sales as lockdown encourages venison eaters to shop online

The survey findings underline how tough conditions have been are in what is a key sector.

After the first five weeks of lockdown, FSB found the majority of micro and small firms expected the business impact of the coronavirus to intensify in the following three months.

Around one in four, 24%, of respondents said they expected to make staff redundant in that period. Four per cent said they had already laid people off.

However, the increase in the use of digital technology provides an example of how firms have risen to the challenges posed.

The federation found around one in seven (15%) Scottish small businesses had either started selling online for the first time or expanded their online offering.

READ MORE: Gardening and virtual pub quiz sessions provide boost for East Kilbride engineer amid challenging times

New services and products had been introduced by 5% and 8% respectively.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said yesterday: “Half of Scotland’s smaller firms had to close during this crisis, either because of the government restrictions imposed to tackle the virus or because their customer base completely dried up.

“But of the remainder, we see an impressive level of innovation and drive to keep sales and operations going. We’ve seen everyone from micro-breweries to local shops switch to home deliveries. We’ve seen yoga instructors offering remote classes and office-based firms embrace technology to stay in business.”

The FSB said the Scottish Government must help maintain the momentum in terms of the use of digital technology. It wants ministers to launch new initiatives to build vocational digital skills amongst Scottish entrepreneurs and workers. The organisation reckons its research makes the case for a new drive to improve Scotland’s broadband and mobile coverage.

READ MORE: Home delivery move helps baker rise to challenges posed by coronavirus

Firms that have moved into home deliveries include Wild Hearth Bakery.

The Perthshire-based firm relied on sales to wholesale clients such as cafes and hotels for the bulk of its income before the lockdown was imposed in March. After operations in those sectors closed the company managed to make up all revenue lost by switching to home delivery.

FSB also highlighted the need for the Scottish Government to ensure that smaller private sector nursery businesses are able to provide the childcare that will be required as workplaces reopen.

This will mean ensuring they have clear guidance on how to operate as safely as possible and providing financial support for them to make changes that may be required.

“Local government and Ministers in Edinburgh need to help these smaller businesses – who play such a key role in their community – re-open safely as soon as possible, providing financial support if necessary,” said Mr McRae.

Nurseries are expected to reopen in phase three of the lockdown easing process mapped out by the Scottish Government. Scotland will enter phase two next week.

The FSB survey got responses from 758 Scottish businesses. It was conducted from April 22 to April 30.