With changes to workplaces and shopping habits with respect to the pandemic and social distancing rules, it is important to adapt to the changing needs of consumers. It can be difficult to adjust and find which things to change in your business in order to have the highest positive impact on opportunities and success. In this blog, we will discuss 4 digital trends that have impacted the business environment and why you should adopt these trends sooner rather than later.
Getting your business online
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and still today businesses needed to pivot to providing their goods through online means. This heightens now due to the inability or unwillingness to visit brick and mortar stores, businesses need to ensure they have an eCommerce plan to continue to generate revenue. Online shopping has and will become a large amount of consumer preference.
Statistics Canada stated: “retail e-commerce sales reached a record $3.9 billion in May, a 2.3% increase over April and 99.3% increase over February ($2.0 billion). Year over year, e-commerce sales more than doubled—with a 110.8% increase compared to May 2019”.There are a variety of benefits to having an online presence, for instance, the ability to reach a larger audience as well as connect your social channels to a direct location for purchase.
It is important to focus attention on search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure that your company’s offerings are appearing within the search results of your target market. There are various ways to enhance SEO including blogs, alt tags, keyword analysis etc. Businesses also have the option to pay for things that can speed up the process such as Google Ads. Although this may not be a desirable option for smaller businesses with more limited marketing budgets, there are many benefits.
Google Ads have the ability to use machine learning in order to track search queries and consumer behaviour to highlight your businesses’ offerings based on search; leaving out a lot of the “guesswork”. Although Ads can help your business to get in front of consumers it is then your job to enhance the customer journey and user experience to ensure satisfaction.
Below was a prediction made in 2019 by eMarketer Statista prior to COVID-19; you can see the growth in e-commerce was continuously on the rise however, the pandemic has skewed these numbers significantly.
No card options such as PayPal, Apple Pay, or “Make an Account” on your website to store credit card and shipping information can also help consumers make a purchase; especially if they are a repeat buyer from your store. This allows buyers a simple and quick checkout process rather than having to re-enter their information each time, this also gives customers less time to rethink their purchasing decisions; things like slow websites can detour a customer to a competitor where they do not face the same issues.
A study by ACI Worldwide said that 55% of e-commerce purchases would be made with alternative “non-card” payments in 2019 and this number continues to rise each year. It is also predicted that 72.9% of e-commerce sales will be made through a mobile device by 2021; it is important that your website and checkout process are easy through various types of devices.
The software gives large advantages while in a remote/digital environment. Whether it be internally or externally, these solutions give the ability to communicate, track, monitor, and analyze interactions, sales, and other data. The insights gained from tools can help you to analyze what consumers are demanding and how you should adapt your strategy in order to meet their needs.
The software can significantly improve communications with customers and prospects, informing them of what is happening and the steps moving forward. ERP can help with forecasting and predicting consumer behaviour as well as supplier relationships and allow you to adjust your strategy and resources to be allocated in the right areas. Solutions such as MailChimp and HubSpot can give your business visibility into communication send rates, open rates, quality of content, and more.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can also be built into software allowing you to analyze consumer behaviour, search patterns, and use data from social media platforms and blog posts to learn about shopping behaviours. AI can also be found in chatbots which are a great way to gain leads visiting your website, chatbots also allow you to communicate directly with prospects to guide them exactly where they want to go.
Internally software such as Microsoft Teams improves communication and collaboration throughout the organization allowing for calls, file sharing, instant chat and more. CRM solutions give one large database to store all customer and prospect information, allowing you to know where they are in the customer life cycle and when they were last communicated with. Having an organized database can significantly help email marketing as well as enhance customer relationships.
Lastly, ERP helps to have an overview of your business gaining insight into all activities, sales, scheduling, billing, processes, productivity and more. Cloud ERP also gives the advantage to access data from anywhere at any time as long as there is an internet connection available; making a remote workplace simple. Cloud also has various advantages when it comes to sharing, collaborating, and backtracking on revisions.
Virtual events are on the rise and it is important for your organization to both attend and hold these as a way to engage with customers and prospects. Whether it be a simple coffee break webinar or an online conference adapting to the changing consumer needs and offering expertise throughout trying times; virtual events and live streams help to show the relationship your organization has with your customers.
If you're in an industry that does not necessarily have the knowledge to share, look into events for your industry and try to get time to speak about your company, what you are doing to adapt and the products/services you offer. Platforms such as ZOOM or GoToMeeting allow you to easily host live events, webinars, meetings and more to engage your market through various interactive features.
Automating Internal Processes
Automation and the adoption of technology have progressively grown over the years and has become a need for many organizations in order to keep up with demand and competition. Automating processes allows businesses to improve efficiencies while reducing room for human error.
Automation can also enhance the customer experience with rapid responses, quality and accuracy. All departments can benefit from automation, however, one, in particular, can see a substantial improvement in Human Resources/Administration.
Automating repetitive, meticulous, and time-consuming tasks can take away the need for manual entry and going back into the system to make sure data is accurate. Instead, HRIS software allows companies to have a one-to-one access point between employees and the HR department, automatically updating anything upcoming and easily adjusting for these changes in payroll, vacation time etc.
Although we did not discuss every digital trend seen today, these are a few that we believe are important and evolving continuously. Your business should consider the following 4 trends and come up with an adoption strategy to position your business in a place for success. We recommend taking small steps, focusing on one digital trend and transformation with an end goal, before implementing all things at once.