If you haven’t been following this series, you can start by reading Part 1 here. In this article, I am going to be covering the next 2 topics: Digital & Convenience and briefly, Health & Safety. In the first article, I Ieft you with a few questions on these topics and I hope you’ve had time to think more about them.
Questions: How can your business go digital? What are some of the parts/functions of your business that can be executed via an online platform or that can be automated?
Even before the pandemic, the world had already become very reliant on digital technology and the ‘instant gratification’ culture had proliferated modern society. The rules that were instituted to mitigate the virus spread only made the pace of adoption exponentially faster and more aggressive. Every business had to look at how they worked and find ways to adapt in the new environment. All of a sudden that meeting could be a phone call after all ;). Remote working, working from home, virtual conference, etc, have become the new normal. However, not every business has found it easy to adapt to these unexpected changes and there are a variety of reasons including a lack of or fear of innovative ideas. Sometimes business owners are too stuck in their ways to be able to imagine alternative ways of doing things. In other cases, it’s a case of being so risk-averse, the idea of trying something new can cause so much procrastinating until there is no action at all.
There’s too much to cover under this topic so I’m going to focus on what I think will at least get you started if you are stuck.
Fundamentally, there are really only 2 types of businesses – Product-based and Service-based. The type of product or service is what adds the extra layers of complexity to the business. Depending on the type of business, the structure of the business may be different and so will the functions [departments] that make it up. For this article, I am going to focus on the functions that are most common across the different businesses:
- Marketing – Combination of activities to create an identity, awareness and interest for your product/service in your target market.
- Sales – Activities that are directly related to or that facilitate the exchange of product/service for money.
- Customer Service – Activities to engage, maintain and retain customers.
- Delivery – How you get the product/service to the customer.
It’s a matter of identifying which of these functions can be executed digitally and create convenience. Here are some ideas.
Firstly, make sure you have a website. Regardless of the type of business or service you offer, the one sure place people will search for you is online. A responsive (mobile friendly) and interactive (contact forms, chat, call-to-actions) website is absolutely necessary. Even you if you have to start with a basic version of the website you want and make additions over time, what is important is to create a digital footprint. It’s the first point for your potential customer to find out about your business and what you do with the least amount of effort (on their part). It also allows you to enlarge your reach. Even if you are a neighbourhood mom & pop shop, if people can find you online from across town and you have what they want, you have just increased your market base. It’s not enough to just have a Facebook or Instagram page.
For the function specifics, take a look at the infographic below. I’ve put together a few ideas of how you can go digital in some of the functions and activities within the business. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the ideas that you could consider but it may be a start.
Lessons learnt about Health & Safety (H&S)
Until there is a vaccine that is widely distributed, the public health measures will most likely stay in place – wear a mask, social distance and constant hand washing. The general public will also be on high alert as the worry of infection continues to exist. Some of these precautions are likely to stay as habits in society even after the pandemic is over. Businesses now need to show that they are taking all the necessary precautions to protect their staff and their customers. Depending on the extent you manage to pivot, there will be health and safety measures you need to implement. What is important is to ensure that your customer is aware of what you are doing to keep them safe. To give them the comfort and confidence to visit your business or buy your product or service.
- Actually implement H&S measures (not as obvious as you would think since some businesses are ignoring the recommended H&S measures)
- Highlight measures in your website & in advertising
- Offer Hand sanitizer & free disposable masks
- Clear signage (instore/office) to support measures
- Reduced pax ‘instore’
- Outdoor setting instead of indoor
- Convert to Virtual Consultation instead of face-to-face
The need for wearing masks may one day fall away but there is certainly no harm in maintaining the hygiene measures.