Werner Herbst, General manager: enterprise compute, Tarsus Distribution
COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital services by small and medium businesses (SMBs) by years. As the dust settles after South Africa’s fourth wave of infections, now is not the time for SMBs to become complacent, however. Forward-looking companies can use digital tech to rebuild and recover, positioning themselves for growth in the years to come. Here are some key digital tools SMBs can use to reinvent their businesses.
1. Ecommerce as digital technologies
Most businesses have needed to learn to serve and sell to customers remotely during the pandemic. Many SMBs have done so through quick and dirty solutions such as phone or email orders, hastily put together websites or partnerships with platforms like Uber Eats. Now is the time to take the learnings from these experiments and create a slicker digital commerce experience.
A mobile app or bespoke ecommerce website is a great opportunity to reach markets and engage with existing customers. The tech is more accessible than ever, with options including hosting a site with an ecommerce platform like Shopify, or building a website using tools like WordPress content management system and the WooCommerce ecommerce solution.
2. New-age payments options for digital technologies
There is a rapidly growing selection of payments channels and instruments in the South African market, ranging from the traditional cash, debit and credit cards, and EFT through to instant EFT, QR codes, mobile wallets and subscription billing. Ideally, your business should enable customers to pay using the channel of their choice.
Supporting a wide range of payments options from different ecosystems and providers used to be complex and expensive. Today, however, innovation fintechs like Netcash and PayFast make it affordable and easy to allow your customers to pay how they’d like to, which enhances the customer experience and improves cash flow.
3. Digital collaboration tools
During the pandemic, most businesses had to learn to work remotely using solutions such as Microsoft Teams to host voice and video meetings, share files, and communicate using instant messaging. Now is a good time to build on these practices by deploying advanced collaboration solutions that boost efficiency.
Project management solutions like Asana, Basecamp and Trello help you stay on top of project deliverables, milestones and deadlines—a must for businesses with a lot of moving parts. Time tracking tools such as Harvest, Clockify and Toggl are essential for businesses that bill by the hour. Screen recording tools (like Loom or Zappy) and whiteboard apps (like Coggle or Stormboard) are also useful.
4. Digitisation of processes and paper
A smart scanning solution that lets you digitise paper as it comes into your business can significantly boost the efficiency of your business. Using today’s more advanced solutions, you can easily convert paper documents—including handwriting and machine print—into electronic files that can be edited or captured in a structured database.
Essential information can be stored in a searchable online repository, easily accessed when it’s needed. You can also use workflow tools and intelligent automation to streamline paper-intensive processes. You can for, example, set up sequences of reviews, approvals, status updates, and routings to help teams efficiently power through work like approving an application or changing a customer’s contact details.
Be agile and resilient
An executive survey from Deloitte suggests more “digitally mature companies” perform better and are more resilient and agile. Investing in digital technologies is key to positioning your company to thrive, whether the economy booms or the crisis continues over the year to come.