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Covid-19 has accelerated biz digitalisation: Where should you start? How much does it cost?

Running a business is no mean feat, and keeping it afloat and thriving amidst a pandemic is even tougher. 

However, many business owners have found that digitalisation is the way to go to ensure that their businesses continue to thrive during times of uncertainty. 

By now, most business leaders have led their companies to digitise at least some part of their business to protect employees and serve customers facing mobility restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Indeed, recent data by McKinsey Digital shows that consumer and business digital adoption globally has leapt five years forward in the span of around eight weeks. 

This is also evident in Singapore; from supermarkets to hawker stores to medical services, firms have been steadily moving their operations online. 

Acting quickly to respond to changes is an important trait that business leaders should possess, and digitising business practices during a pandemic is a way of adapting to change. 

Stuart Thornton, CEO and co-founder of buy now, pay later solution hoolah told Vulcan Post that when the pandemic struck, the company “quickly moved to a virtual team environment to protect [their] people.”

He added that the use of technology can greatly aid a company’s quest to efficiency and agility, especially during the pandemic.

However, digitising a business is not a simple task, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups might require some assistance to speed up the process.

They might be overwhelmed with the huge array of solutions in the market supported under government grants, and might not know how to begin their digital transformation journey.

As such, here are some first steps small businesses can undertake to begin their digitalisation process: 

Building an e-commerce platform

Image Credit: Identity Force

Most small businesses and SMEs provide value to their customers in the form of products or services. 

Due to the pandemic, reaching out to their customers via physical means has become more difficult. Thus, it is important to establish an online presence, and a point of contact for customers to purchase goods and services online. 

Starting an e-commerce arm is not simple, and some firms even have dedicated e-commerce teams. 

A lot has to be done when setting up an e-commerce site — from developing an online store to managing inventory and marketing — so many SMEs might see moving online as a daunting task. 

However, there are many firms that provide solutions to aid other businesses in setting up their e-commerce sites. 

An example is the solutions provided by Bona Technologies

Bona Technologies is a pre-approved SMEs Go Digital vendor specialising in e-commerce websites and point of sales software equipped with enterprise resource planning modules. 

It has capacity ranging from e-commerce customisation, web development, delivery management, and payment gateways. It also helps clients with online marketing, inventory management, customer relationship management, order processing and more.

Similarly, Corsiva Lab is a website and mobile apps development agency that is dedicated to providing strong digital solutions that uphold each business’ unique brand, while helping to generate higher sales revenue.

Software solutions firm Equotix also provides firms with the ability to integrate their online stores with marketplaces like Shopee, Lazada and Qoo10. 

Other e-commerce vendors available are 3D Brand Agency, MediaPlus Digital and Vue Tech

Tracking retail analytics 

retail analytics
Image Credit: Visa

Businesses with an online presence would know that data analytics is extremely important in growing their business. 

Data such as which products were purchased more at a certain timing provides the insight businesses need to understand customer buying behavior. This allows them to forecast and plan for future demand.

Even if a business has an online presence, it might have difficulties making data-centric decisions if they lack the right tools for collecting, harnessing and analysing information.

Capturing data is also essential for businesses when carrying out cash flow monitoring, business planning and other important corporate decisions.

Anewtech Systems is a leading industrial computing provider specialising in the provision of innovative computer integrations for versatile industrial applications and customisation services.

It also allows merchants to analyse the demographics of their customers via its hardware solutions. 

Data collection tools can also be integrated within in-store retail services. For example, Nspire Group is a software solution provider that offers intelligent productivity solutions.

RavenPOS, a subsidiary branding under the Nspire arm, provides enterprises with a suite of solutions to not only facilitate sales, but also in making post-sales decisions. 

Its software solutions allow for comprehensive reporting for forecasting and business planning, while its hardware equipment is easy for sales staff to use and navigate.  Other POS service providers include LevelFive Solutions and WeeBo.

Managing staff remotely

M1 digitalisation
Image Credit: HRM Asia

Everyone can agree that communication is the key to success. Whether you’re having a meeting or pitching an idea, communication is at the forefront of the workplace. 

However, the pandemic has effectively made large face-to-face meetings unfeasible. 

Even though most employees prefer remote work, interaction and communication with co-workers remain vital. 

Working from home — at least on some days — is here to stay, and businesses need to be able to find a way to effectively engage with their employees remotely. 

This could mean improving internal communications strategies to prioritise employee relations, or encouraging continuous engagement.

Here’s where human resource softwares come in handy. An example is Adaptive Pay, a cloud-based HR solution by Adaptive Cloud Systems with full-fledged HR capabilities such as payroll management, leave management, claim management and appraisal management. 

Meanwhile, PayBoy handles all the HR needs of a company, from payroll processing to leaves management and claim management, as well as shift scheduling and more. 

F&B owners who use the PayBoy HR management system can create offers and discounts for PayBoy’s 60,000 corporate employees in its ecosystem to redeem as part of the firm’s foray into corporate benefits.  Other HR management solutions include Just Login and People Central.

Kickstarting digital transformation

M1 Digital Transformation Alliance (DTA) aims to gather like-minded partners in the IT arena who are eager to support SMEs in Singapore on their digital transformation journey. 

It seeks to gear up SMEs with the latest digital applications and equipment to deliver differentiation in their businesses.

On 27 August 2021, M1 will be running a virtual event to share about how SMEs can accelerate their digital adoption to overcome challenges faced in this pandemic. 

SMEs can also learn about how the government can support them in this area. Eligible companies can enjoy up to 98 per cent grant support from the government agencies under the SME Go Digital campaign

Called Level Up: Digital First for Business Recovery and Breakthrough, the virtual event will showcase an array of IMDA’s pre-approved vendors under the SMEs Go Digital programme. M1 is partnering these vendors to enhance and deliver a superior proposition.

Through this virtual event, business leaders will be able to learn about the various financial options available to support their digital transformation journey, as well as hear from industry leaders on the latest market trends and solutions. 

Over 1,000 SMEs from different industries like retail, F&B, logistics, service providers and more, are welcomed to join. To take part and kickstart your business’ digital transformation journey, click here

This article was written in collaboration with M1. 

Featured Image Credit: Holidify


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