Running a business is not an easy task, and it's even harder to keep it afloat and thrive in the midst of a pandemic.
However, many entrepreneurs have found that digitization is the right way to ensure their businesses continue to thrive in times of uncertainty.
In the meantime, most executives have induced their companies to digitize at least part of their business in order to protect employees and serve customers who are faced with restricted mobility due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In fact, recent data from McKinsey Digital shows that digital adoption among consumers and businesses around the world has increased five years in about eight weeks.
This is also evident in Singapore; From supermarkets to street vendors to medical services, companies have constantly moved their business to the Internet.
Acting quickly to respond to change is an important quality business leaders should possess, and digitizing business practices during a pandemic is a way to adapt to change.
Stuart Thornton, CEO and co-founder of Buy Now, Pay Later Solution Hoola, told Vulcan Post that when the pandemic broke out, the company "quickly moved into a virtual team environment to protect (its) employees".
He added that the use of technology can greatly aid a company's pursuit of efficiency and agility, especially during the pandemic.
Digitizing a business is not an easy task, however, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs), as well as startups, may need support to speed up the process.
They may be overwhelmed with the vast array of solutions out there, backed by government grants, and may not know how to begin their digital transformation journey.
Here are some first steps small businesses can take to begin their digitization process:
Development of an e-commerce platform
Photo credit: Identity Force
Most small businesses and SMEs offer their customers added value in the form of products or services.
Due to the pandemic, it has become more difficult to reach their customers physically. Therefore, it is important to have an online presence and point of contact for customers to buy goods and services online.
Starting an ecommerce branch is not easy, and some companies even have dedicated ecommerce teams.
There is a lot that needs to be done in setting up an ecommerce site – from developing an online store to managing its inventory and marketing – so many SMBs find switching to the internet a daunting task.
However, there are many companies that offer solutions to help other businesses set up their ecommerce sites.
One example is the solutions from Bona Technologies.
Bona Technologies is a pre-approved SMB Go Digital provider specializing in e-commerce websites and point-of-sales software equipped with enterprise resource planning modules.
It has capabilities that range from e-commerce customization, web development, delivery management, and payment gateways. It also helps clients with online marketing, inventory management, customer relationship management, order fulfillment, and more.
Similarly, Corsiva Lab is a website and mobile app development agency dedicated to delivering powerful digital solutions that preserve each company's unique brand while helping to generate higher sales revenues.
The software solutions company Equotix also offers companies the opportunity to integrate their online shops with marketplaces such as Shopee, Lazada and Qoo10.
Other e-commerce providers available are 3D Brand Agency, MediaPlus Digital, and Vue Tech.
Track retail analytics
Image source: Visa
Businesses with an online presence know that data analytics is extremely important to growing their business.
Data, e.g. For example, which products were purchased more frequently at a given point in time provide the insights companies need to understand customer buying behavior. This enables you to forecast and plan future needs.
Even with an online presence, a business can struggle to make data-centric decisions if it lacks the right tools to collect, use, and analyze information.
Collecting data is also essential for companies to be involved in cash flow monitoring, business planning, and other key business decisions.
Anewtech Systems is a leading industrial computer provider specializing in providing innovative computer integrations for a wide range of industrial applications and customization services.
It also enables merchants to analyze their customers' demographics through their hardware solutions.
Data collection tools can also be integrated with in-store retail services. For example, the Nspire Group is a software solution provider that offers intelligent productivity solutions.
RavenPOS, a subsidiary under the Nspire arm, offers companies a range of solutions that not only make sales easier, but also make post-sale decisions.
The software solutions enable comprehensive reporting for forecasts and business planning, while the hardware equipment is easy to use and navigate for sales staff. Other POS service providers are LevelFive Solutions and WeeBo.
Manage employees remotely
Image source: HRM Asia
Everyone agrees that communication is the key to success. Regardless of whether you have a meeting or come up with an idea, communication is paramount in the workplace.
However, the pandemic has made large face-to-face meetings virtually impossible.
While most employees prefer to work remotely, interaction and communication with colleagues remain crucial.
Working from home – at least some days – is a perennial issue, and companies need to be able to find a way to effectively connect with their employees remotely.
This could mean improving internal communication strategies to prioritize employee relationships, or encouraging continued engagement.
HR software is used here. One example is Adaptive Pay, a cloud-based HR solution from Adaptive Cloud Systems with full-fledged HR functions such as payroll, vacation management, entitlement management and appraisal management.
In the meantime, PayBoy takes care of all HR requirements of a company, from payroll to vacation and receivables management to shift planning and more.
F&B owners using the PayBoy human resource management system can create deals and discounts for PayBoy's 60,000 corporate employees in its ecosystem to redeem as part of the company's push into corporate benefits. Other HR management solutions include Just Login and People Central.
Starting signal for the digital transformation
The M1 Digital Transformation Alliance (DTA) has set itself the goal of bringing together like-minded partners in the IT sector who would like to support SMEs in Singapore on their path to digital transformation.
It aims to equip SMBs with the latest digital applications and devices to differentiate their businesses.
On August 27, 2021, M1 is hosting a virtual event to share how SMEs can accelerate their digital adoption to address the challenges of this pandemic.
SMEs can also find out how the state can support them in this area. Eligible companies can receive a subsidy of up to 98 percent from government agencies as part of the “KMU Go Digital” campaign.
Titled Level Up: Digital First for Business Recovery and Breakthrough, the virtual event will showcase a number of IMDA's pre-approved vendors as part of the Go Digital SMB program. M1 works with these vendors to improve and deliver a superior offering.
This virtual event enables business leaders to learn about the various financial opportunities available to support their digital transformation, as well as learn about the latest market trends and solutions from industry leaders.
Over 1,000 SMEs from various sectors such as retail, gastronomy, logistics, service providers and more are very welcome. Click here to join in and kick off your company's digital transformation journey.
This article was written in collaboration with M1.
Highlighted Image Source: Holidify