Business ideas

5 steps to go digital with your business

It is an open secret that the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that followed changed consumer behavior online. When the country entered lockdown in March 2020, consumers increasingly relied on digital platforms for their daily needs such as groceries, education and other essentials.

But what did that mean for more 60 million Indian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?

Agile SMEs have realized that digitization is about survival and they have adopted technology at a rapid pace. However, many others were not so fortunate.

Small businesses have learned the importance of five key aspects of digital transformation the hard way.

Taken from SMBS stories video series Digital playbook for SMEs, here are the five key ideas and lessons for small businesses on how to go digital.

Use digital payments to preserve cash flow

The shift to online shopping has taught all stakeholders in the small business ecosystem the importance of embracing digital contactless payments for small businesses, kiranas and merchants.

Arguably the most critical aspect of digital transformation, digital payments ensure that small merchants or kiranas can continue to accept or send money and preserve cash flow in an increasingly contactless world.

The digitalization of purchasing and payments technology has the potential to completely transform the way small businesses operate. Digitization of payments introduces much needed simplicity, streamlines business processes, reduces lead times and improves overall efficiency for SMEs.

In a video interview, three leading Indian digital payment solutions providers – PayU India, Sarvatra Technologies and PayNearby – explained the steps SMEs should take to embrace digital payments.

Anand Kumar Bajaj, MD and CEO, PayNearby, said: “Kirana stores remained open during the lockdown. Customers lobbied for kiranas to accept digital payments. Kiranas who wasn’t sure about the GST earlier ended up adopting new online transaction methods. This new behavior of contactless transactions will take root deeply.

Save money and avoid losses with digital accounting

Small businesses have traditionally gone the route of outsourcing to financial firms, hiring CAs for their accounting records or managing the accounts themselves. They feel more confident when they directly control operations, and often undermine or are skeptical about adopting digital accounting solutions.

With the burden of managing expenses, the payment cycle, tracking inventory, taxes, GST, etc., managing it all manually is a mental and financial challenge. This often leads to erroneous entries and recurring losses, which small businesses cannot afford in the current scenario.

During a video interaction, Tejas Goenka from Tally Solutions, one of India’s largest enterprise resource planning companies, and Agarwal Summit de Vyapar explained how small businesses can use digital accounting solutions and save money.

However, this is easier said than done. “Technology generally scares off small business owners who need a helping hand to go digital,” said Sumit Agarwal, founder of Vyapar application. “They are afraid to manage their accounts digitally. They fear breaching confidential data, tampering with software and other things that require training and lessons, ”he said.

Sell ​​using the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) method

In a traditional economic model, wholesalers, distributors and retailers are present between the buyer and the seller. In the D2C model, these middlemen are eliminated and the seller can sell directly to the buyer through their website, online stores, or offline stores.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, this model offers a great opportunity for small businesses to reach customers directly, reduce expenses resulting from payments to intermediaries and distributors, and pass cost-benefits on to customers.

India has seen a boom in the number of D2C brands in categories such as FMCG, Apparel and Consumer Electronics, among others, with brands such as MamaEarth, Mom’s Co, The Souled Store, Wakefit and many others.

In a virtual interview, Karan chowdhary by WOW Skin Science, Lalvani deep from Ador Multiproduits and Yashas Alur from Everpret got together to explain D2C and why it’s here to stay.

Yashas Alur, founder of Everpret, a brand of accessories for women, said, “Starting a D2C business involves a lot of ease and convenience, compared to starting a business offline. For an offline store, several aspects must be taken into account: supply chain, logistics, distributors, vendors, etc. “

Migrate to cloud solutions to survive

SMEs minimize their expenses and stay afloat by rapidly adopting technologies such as cloud, digital payments, e-commerce, digital accounting, CRM, automation, and more.

The adoption of cloud technology, in particular, is expected to have a significant impact on reducing costs and playing a role in the survival of small businesses.

Cloud technology allows solutions like CRM, ERP, web servers, business applications, IoT solutions, etc. to be hosted online by a service provider.

In a video interaction, Harish Vellat, Country Manager, Small, Medium and Large Enterprises, Microsoft India, said, “SMEs that have adopted technologies such as cloud solutions are faring better than SMEs that have not. Only a small segment of SMEs understood what it takes to collaborate, connect and communicate.

“Small businesses that responded fairly quickly were able to quickly migrate to remote work and resume operations without much disruption,” he added.

Small businesses that did not respond quickly saw their problems escalate. These SMBs, which lacked cloud-based collaborative tools and systems to access common applications, found it more difficult to work remotely, according to Harish.

Choose simple and easy-to-use digital solutions

The simplicity and reduction of new functionality seems counterintuitive for a business trying to acquire small business users on a large scale. But Indian small businesses prefer simple, easy-to-use solutions.

Many small businesses are willing to consider using digital solutions, but they can be overwhelmed with too many features or complex interfaces.

A simple and intuitive app that runs on a basic smartphone is better for a small business than a heavy software app that requires a high-end desktop PC to run.

In a virtual interview, Hiren Shah, Founder and Chairman, Vertoz and Logesh Velusamy, Founder and CEO, Effitrac explained how such simple solutions make more sense for small businesses and why they should embrace easy-to-use digital products.

Logesh said, “Usability and simplicity are important in helping users understand a digital solution. Additionally, SMBs are typically not used to running their business digitally and therefore will not embrace a technology solution that offers little or no ground-level customer support and service.

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