The business world is in the thick of a digital transformation where more and more transactions and interactions are being made online. It’s time to digitize your business, from operations and sales to HR and inventory. While it may sound overwhelming, there are a few easy places to start.
Introducing technology into your business can have a strong impact on productivity and profitability, making it easier to reach your target audience, market your products and services and offer an enhanced customer experience. From managing supply to cash flow to customer service, here are five ways to digitize your business.
1. Digitize Customer Communications and Engagement
By moving customer communications to a digital environment, you can not only save time and money, but you can also deliver on the immediacy, personalization and convenience consumers now expect from businesses of every type and size. Not only that, consumer marketing has moved from a one-way paradigm to a two-way conversation, and digital communication makes it simpler to keep up with expectations. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Build or maintain a functional, service-based website. This is where prospects will pre-screen your business, shoppers will search for product availability and in many cases buy from you.
- Automate simple interactions. Add an automated chatbot to your website to provide always-on service.
- Implement live chat and social media messaging platforms to respond to personal and specific questions and requests.
- Boost your social media presence to deliver timely updates on your business (promotions, hours, pick-up procedures) and build your brand personality online. Create Facebook promotions or a virtual live event to build your community.
- Lean on email for proactive communication about your business to customers.
2. Digitize your supply chain
The goal of moving your supply chain to a digital environment is to minimize waste and increase productivity. Here are some ways to transform your existing supply chain process:
While paper invoices and cheques are still used across businesses, the digital transformation of payments, deposits and accounting has become as easy as it is efficient, thanks to the multitude of solutions available. For example, you can:
- Use online banking services to set up one-time or ongoing direct deposits for supplier payments.
- Pay vendors online using a credit card.
- Use invoice and accounting software to keep track of cash flow, forecasting and automate bill payments.
Invest in inventory management software. Inventory software systems can allow you to manage your inventory and check stock levels in real-time. More complete systems will also send automatic low inventory notifications and generate purchase orders to replenish your stock.
3. Digitize your staffing model
The world of work has been changing rapidly over the last several years — then it underwent a massive shift in 2020. Given the pandemic, technology took on a major role in keeping businesses connected with customers and with each other.
Having a platform in place that can sustain remote work practices will allow you to keep your business running as smoothly as possible — through the pandemic and beyond.
Human Resource functions such as payroll, benefits enrolment, vacation planning and recruiting can all be digitized, driving more efficiency for your business, on-demand support for your employees, and cast a wider net for future hiring.
4. Use data to support your decision-making
Once you have implemented digital processes across your business, you can use the data you have gathered to inform and support the decisions you make about the operation and growth of your business.
For example, you can use data to determine the most cost-effective way to promote a new product, which sales activities generate the most leads and which customer service channels improve response times.
Businesses of all types, sizes and industries had already begun a path to digitization before COVID-19 — but the pandemic served to accelerate many planned implementations from back-office operations to customer communications.
And while the benefits of digitizing — including operational efficiency, reduced costs, faster payments and increased customer loyalty — will be here to stay, the way in which technology will support business is likely to shift again as the world emerges from this crisis. It’s important to understand which tactics work best for your company as you move your business forward through 2021 and beyond.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.