COVID-19 shocked the entire world – governments, enterprises, corporates, healthcare systems, businesses, and populations.
Since then, the pandemic has created change in every field. MSMEs across India accepted that it was time to go digital or continue to face mounting losses.
The need to go digital
A shift towards digitisation was already under way before the pandemic. But the lockdowns accelerated this – in India and across the world.
The pandemic had led to adoption of contactless digital payments, leading to a massive rise in digital payment volumes across online grocery stores, small retail outlets, online pharmacies, vegetable and fruit vendors, recharges, bill payments as well as OTT (telecom and media), and edtech players.
Taking the digital route can help MSMEs modernise and increases access to the target audience, along with streamlining payments, and obtaining financing and expert advice.
The advantages of going digital
Why should SMEs get online to grow business? Small businesses that go digital are more resilient when faced with such situations. Amidst COVID-19, a digital presence worked as an advantage that helped small businesses recover faster and go from survival to revival.
But what does digital transformation really mean for an SME? It could differ from business to business, but involves the integration of digital technologies into all areas of business operations.
SMEs should remember that digitalisation can offer many benefits that extend beyond COVID-19. These include:
Efficiency When SMES make digital technologies a part of their day-to-day processes, they streamline operations and automate manual processes. Over time, this results in greater speed, lesser waste, and an increased focus on revenue-generating activities.
Productivity Experts agree about how to increase productivity: Value created ÷ hours worked. Digitalisation merges the potential of connectivity and collaboration to open up new supply chains and markets, and create different, more productive ways of working.
Customer experience Technology has changed the way companies interact with customers. By providing speed, it helps engage and serve customers quickly, and lets SMES offer a better and consistent customer experience. Using customer data can also help stay on top of changes in demand and forecast emerging trends.
Agility A digitalised business works as a self-service, out-of-the-box experience across different platforms. This empowers employees with tools that can help them succeed. Using data-driven insights helps make decisions faster and act on them faster, and ensures flexibility.
Security Going digital allows SMEs to use specific software to protect sensitive information and financial data. This ensures physical assets are more secure and makes logistics seamless.
Profitability Investing in technology is the best way for SMEs to improve profitability. The man-hours freed up by automation and direction provided by data analytics will give the team more time to focus on growing what matters – the business.
The new normal
It’s clear now that there will be no return to normal. COVID-19 has permanently changed the way we live and work.
The worldwide lockdowns showed us that despite offline stores and locations being shut, it was business as usual for online stores as consumers – even those who had never gone online – turned to eCommerce to meet their needs.
Grocery delivery, bill payments, and more…COVID-19 showed us that SMEs needed to adopt digital approach.
Many other COVID-19 trends are also here to stay. These include:
- Consumer focus on less spending, more saving
- Need to bulk buy and stockpile
- Contactless delivery options
- Rise of self-service
- Digitisation of customer service
- Increased focus on cleanliness, safety, and health
- Boost for online and on-demand platforms
These behaviours developed during a time of crisis are likely to stay on after the pandemic is gone. The focus on digital means that SMBs that want to stay relevant must respond to these changes and focus on emerging customer demands.
Smart SMEs will know that a cosmetic digital facelift will not do; the COVID-19-led crisis is the time to go all in.
Boost360 can help you do exactly that.