The digital transformation of companies represents a challenge and an opportunity for all sizes of company, including small businesses (SMB). In particular, the digitization of SMB is essential, as an important economic lever. According to a Local Search Association (LSA) study, 68% of small businesses believe national brands have marketing and technology tools at their disposal that they do not have. These small businesses are looking for tools to level the playing field. To succeed in this digital transfer, more effort needs to be made in simple processes, skills, and innovative tools, as well as supporting competitiveness. Small businesses will begin to expect these tools to come as a package solution from a single source provider. Currently, 50% of small businesses would prefer to work with a single company that could address most or all of these areas for a single monthly or annual fee. This percentage is predicted to go up.
State of play for small business digitalization in the US
The US Statistic Portals have released in October 2017 results of more than 605 US companies surveyed and observed 45% of those companies believed in the importance of a well established digital presence to follow the most recent market trends and keep up with their fierce competition.
According to 77% of small business owners, a successful digital marketing strategy had a powerful impact on customers acquisition and loyalty. 63% of SMBs also stated the optimization of these digital actions enhance the image of the company and their competitiveness. More than 50% of US SMBs, who have already invested in their digital transformation, intend to stay innovative in their industry and take advantage of technology improvement to increase their brand awareness and overall business profitability.
The digital economy — what are the opportunities for your company?
First of all, the digital economy is a productivity lever for small businesses. The real advantages for them are expressed in terms of cost optimization and time savings through the use of digital tools to improve productivity and customer relationship (ERP, CRM, collaborative work platforms). According to the Deloitte/Facebook report, a digitized business model is likely to reduce the relevant cost bases by 20% or 50% respectively through automated business processes, or a more flexible organization internally.
Consequently, digitalization offers real growth potential for SMBs. If we take the example of the US, online sales accounted for 49% of total sales growth in 2017. According to the American statistics portal, 40% of American citizen using the Internet in 2017 ordered goods or services online. This indicates a change in the digital behavior of consumers and SMB digitalization.
It is no surprise digitalization allows SMBs to compete with larger companies, which are historically well established. The advent of virtual marketplaces allows them to challenge the industries where these traditional players previously took center stage, and penetrate new markets by using virtual shops which are accessible to a wide and diverse base of potential customers.
How to propose innovative solutions in a straightforward way?
If in spite of all these digital opportunities, the SMB digitalization isn't taking off, it is primarily due to their perception of how to deploy and manage the digital solutions which are proposed to them. Few digital services SMBs are developing an all-in-one solution.
At the same time, the Soft-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions of the existing leaders are complex and expensive for an SMB that wants to digitize. Therefore, It is essential that providers specializing in the support and provision of digital services to SMBs put them at the heart of their strategy to offer them simple and comprehensive digital solutions.
To achieve this, it will be a question of demonstrating to the company, or the one they identify, the digital tools which correspond to their area of activity. After that, we can start to think about functionalities or solutions, together, that will respond more effectively to more specific aspects. Faced with such a compelling value proposition, companies would be more enthusiastic at the prospect of overcoming the stagnation, frustration, incoherence and digital resistance or even the challenges of digitization without a digital strategy and embarking on a genuine and complete digital transformation of their company.
For example, Agendize offers its SMB clients, for whom online appointment booking matches their activity, a complete solution integrating digital queuing, SMS and email marketing, online chat, mobile management of the company, etc.
Solutions such as these are simple and easy to implement for an SMB and can galvanize the customer relationship, facilitate internal organization, and boost team productivity.
Finally, SMB digital transformation cannot be the only consideration for the companies concerned and their digital service providers. Faced with the increased need to mobilize internal and external skills as well as financial investment, a political will and commitment to accelerate their digital transformation is required. The health of the economy and the competitiveness of countries are at stake.