Published on January 4th, 2021
Small businesses are the foundation of local economies. But with rapid digitization taking place, they are losing the race. Tech giants like Amazon and Walmart are using modern-day technologies like Cloud Web Apps, Machine Learning (ML), and AI to gain rich business insights and implement effective solutions.
Similarly, today’s customers are tech-savvy and don’t shy from buying and selling things online. But as unfortunate as it may sound, small businesses are too slow in embracing technological changes. As a result, they are lagging.
Experts divide small businesses into one of the following three categories:
- Mom-and-pop shops that maintain cash registers and refrain from using new technological tools.
- Big companies that don’t hesitate to make full use of the latest technology — AI, ML, Data Analytics.
- The third category includes the majority of companies that neither belong to points a or b. They have limited access to technology and often shy away from using modern-day techniques due to technical complexity or operational costs.
This article sheds light on 4 ways small businesses can increase their digital capabilities:
1. Using Business Analytics To The Maximum
Business analytics will provide you a 360-degree perspective of the market. You will gain rich business insights into current market trends, speed up inventory/warehouse operations, improve logistics, and learn about customer behavior — footfall, buying patterns, past purchases, highest selling products.
Such information points will allow you to brainstorm pro-customer strategies and create blueprints aligned to market realities.
ERP systems come with an in-built business analytics feature that sends real-time information about the market, customers, and competitors. This data will enable you to forecast better and survive during adverse times.
2. Managing The Workforce
A productive workforce is one of the essential parts of a business. If your employees are well-trained and motivated, they will deliver high-quality work and finish up tasks within the specified time. For this to happen, you need to ensure the following:
- Your workforce is paid on time.
- Their grievances are heard and resolved quickly.
- The company has a robust Learning and Development (l&D) department that upgrades employees’ skills.
- There is a sound relationship between managers and frontline executives, and the former guides the latter whenever required.
Small businesses can employ top-notch ERP systems that help manage the workforce appropriately. They monitor what employees are doing during their office hours, send full-fledged reports to managers, and suggest a course-correction strategy for underperformers.
3. Building A Loyal Customer Base
Each company wants to build a robust and long-lasting relationship with customers. Statistics provide enough evidence on why this is important.
You will be surprised to know that acquiring new customers is approximately five times more expensive than retaining the existing ones. Now the question is how you can do that?
The following are some ways of creating a loyal customer base:
- Build a robust online platform where customers can sign up quickly and purchase conveniently.
- Employ chatbots that assist customers 24/7.
- Create a robust FAQ section from where customers can find solutions to trivial problems at a moment’s notice.
- Join hands with prominent delivery services like Zomato, UberEats, and Swiggy to expand your operational area and serve more customers.
- Allow customers to interact with you through multiple devices, including mobile phones, tablets, PCs, etc.
- Build an efficient customer service department that takes up complex issues and provides on-the-spot solutions.
4. Create An Effective Digital Loyalty Program
Today everybody is online and you cannot miss capitalizing on this opportunity. Customers are readily joining social networks where they can find the best deal of the day. You must brainstorm and create viable online solutions to attract as many customers as possible.
The following are a few things you can do:
- Create attractive discounts and coupons on a daily/weekly/fortnightly/monthly/bi-monthly/half-yearly/annual basis.
- Design attractive alerts and push notifications to attract customers.
- Identify customers who haven’t purchased for a long duration, say 90 days, and create strategies to attract them.
- Integrate loyalty programs with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to get a 360-degree perspective to effectively map your customers’ needs, wants, and aspirations.
Small businesses are the backbones of local economies. They provide jobs and fulfill the needs of their respective areas. But unfortunately, they aren’t adopting technology at a fast rate. On the contrary, big companies are making heavy investments and are leading the race.
This article has shed light on 4 ways small businesses can increase their digital capabilities and up the ante. It’s high time that they do so or be ready to face the consequences.