If anyone were to ask about the right time to invest in digital transformation for small businesses, the answer would be now in 2020.
The raging COVID 19 pandemic has already claimed over 1 million lives globally and is expected to pull down the global growth rate by over 8% according to the World Bank.
The pandemic is also being hailed as the single biggest accelerator for digital transformation in businesses of all sizes. Harsh lockdowns, severe travel restrictions, and restricted business capacity were witnessed in almost all major global economies. To adhere to the stay-indoors order issues by governments across the world, people have increasingly moved to digital channels for their daily needs. From grocery shopping to family meetups, a large section of human activities moved into a virtual-only mode over the internet.
Small businesses were at the receiving end of the disruption caused by the pandemic. Studies have shown that nearly 51% of small businesses do not even have a website where potential customers can discover them online or get more information. In the post COVID era, digital transformation for small businesses will be an inevitable transition as it will be the only saving grace for them to survive.
Let us explore three key reasons why small businesses must take a digital-friendly approach to sustain in the market.
eCommerce taking center stage
Online sales in 2020 are set to reach peak values of USD 710 Billion in the US alone. From health and beauty to food, groceries, and even educational services have taken the online route due to the pandemic. What this means is that the prolonged mobility restrictions put in place due to COVID will gradually convince a lot of shoppers to venture more into online shopping even after the pandemic. For small businesses, this trend would imply that their logistical and supply chain infrastructure, along with operations, have to be nimble and agile to cope up with the massive demands from digital channels. Only by digitally transforming core business departments, can small businesses put up a fight in the face of tight competition.
The explosive growth of social media marketing opportunities
Even before the pandemic, social media like Facebook, Twitter, and other content sharing platforms were becoming the hotbed for marketing and advertisements. While small businesses have joined the social media bandwagon by having a small presence, rarely do they opt for investing money in promoting their brands. But to ensure that they track the right metrics for social media metrics and improve on their marketing efforts, small businesses need to onboard an effective marketing automation tool. Such tools should sync with top social media platforms and help them run campaigns more effectively. Such platforms help with tracking and analytics on the performance of campaigns, generating insights such as conversion rates to help fine-tune future campaigns. Social media usage during the pandemic has skyrocketed in almost all countries globally. Twitter alone is seeing an average of 23% more users daily on the platform when compared with the same period in 2019. The new engagement levels found in social media are likely to sustain after the pandemic as well as people have become accustomed to it. Having a marketing automation tool is a fundamental step of digitally enabling your marketing activities and in the post COVID era, it will certainly be of great importance.
Changing workforce dynamics
The pandemic re-defined work environments for several sectors by eliminating the barrier to allow employees to work from the comfort of their homes for months together in a stretch without having any negative impacts on productivity. Employers have also been venturing into more dynamic forms of employment practices such as hiring people with the gig economy principle. It eliminates a lot of permanent positions within the organization and instead hires skilled people on demand to perform every task at the stipulated time with set budgets. For employees to continue to work remotely from anywhere, it is important for businesses of all sizes to help onboard seamless work productivity and operational digital solutions. From cloud-based productivity tools to collaboration and communication platforms, the workforce of tomorrow needs access to a large portfolio of digital solutions. Hence, digital transformation becomes an inevitable phenomenon to have a sustainable work culture for small businesses post the COVID saga.
The pandemic has caused a paradigm shift in the way consumers and small businesses interacted. From moving transactions and interactions virtually to managing the complexity of business operations with remote staff, small businesses can leverage the power of digital to help grow their business more profitably and with greater efficiency by continuing to encourage the best practices learned in digital during the pandemic.
Digital transformation for small businesses will be a key decider in enabling them to survive and engage consumers once the COVID era is put to rest.