The benefits of going digital for your business
Rooted in reducing the burden of time-consuming administrative tasks, software can securely and easily store business data, simplify your selling process, and help refine your customer experience.
The Enterprise Research Centre reports there is an expected productivity gain of between 7.5 – 18% for small and medium sized businesses, when they adopt new digital technologies such as Digital Accountancy, eCommerce and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
Adjusting to the new landscape businesses are now trading in, being accessible, staying connected and understanding your customers - even when you can’t talk to them face to face - are vital for survival.
What does ‘being digital’ mean?
Being digital means embracing new technologies that can help your business operate more efficiently. Digital is something SMEs of all sizes and locations can do and taking the first step, no matter how small, will help build confidence and knowledge.
It’s also worth remembering that digital adoption isn’t something you have to tackle all in one go.
Here are some examples of what you could achieve:
- an online shopfront so customers can buy directly from you
- swapping your Excel spreadsheets for accounting software that automatically generates invoices and tracks spending
- storing your essential sales on a secure online system making them accessible to your team even when they’re working remotely
- automating your promotions, chasing leads and exploring customer type from one central system. This helps to introduce new ways to reach your customers, understand their wants and create consistent service
If you have more than one digital aspiration in mind, start with setting objectives for new software and allow the rest to follow when the time’s right.
How does adopting digital technology help?
Save time on everyday tasks so you can spend time driving your business
Changing how you manage your essential data like financial information and customer contact details give a quick win for saving you time and reducing the opportunity for human error.
In our survey, we found that around 30% of SMEs are still using spreadsheets and paper-based records for their accounts. This presents a huge risk for incorrectly filed accounts and is incredibly time consuming when you need to collate receipts, invoices and manually check payment has been received.
Other ways automation can help save time is by using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to store, track and review customer habits.
Giving you better data to manage your business and your customers’ experience, it means details are entered once and stored centrally so team members can access what they need without having to chase anyone else in the team for information.
Understand your customers
Knowing the wants and needs of your customers is vital for retaining clients and attracting new ones. Using paper and spreadsheet based methods to spot trends, especially over a longer period of time, is incredibly time consuming and at risk of human error.
Swapping spreadsheets for CRM could provide the opportunity to track and cross-reference your trends automatically, by clicking checkboxes for what you want to see.
This can help you track:
- regularity of spend – covering a date range or by customer type
- sale value – understanding average spend could help plan future promotions
- purchase type – great data for understanding stock levels and expanding your ranges
If you’re thinking about loyalty plans, seasonal promotions and where to drive product development, this is vital data.
Boost sales by reaching more people
When SME trading only happened offline, competing with bigger brands was next to impossible. It took big budgets for sustained exposure. Now, people are choosing to shop online and buy from independent traders more, the opportunities are vast.
The creation of online marketplaces and tools for marketing and promotion have levelled the playing field. Environments like social media platforms let you readily examine what your competitors are doing, and how well your shared target customers respond to different methods of advertising and products.
Combined with easier access to professional looking designs for your logos and a website, suddenly a smart, targeted brand presence that reaches more of your ideal customer is in grabbing distance.
Connect your systems for better insights
If you’re thinking about what comes next on your digital adoption journey, connecting your existing systems is an ideal place to start.
Linking your eCommerce and Accounting systems can provide you with deeper insights about your sales and overall business health.
This can include quicker access to information, and enable improved communication between staff, suppliers and networks. Ideal if your business operates across multiple sites and has remote working staff.
This article was originally published at Help to the Grow: Digital and has been reproduced here under the Open Government Licence v3.0.