How digital transformation saves small businesses during COVID-19?
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Digital transformations during COVID-19 could take multiple forms and be done at various levels. A blend of manual and automated work processes in your business operations or an out-and-out revamping to digital could be the options. What can be said with certainty is that the benefits of online business during COVID-19 times saved many small businesses. So what you should do?
You move online!
The year 2020 brought forth such unforeseen events that almost 91% of businesses worldwide started accelerating digital transformation in COVID times in some manner. Those who shifted from offline business to online business are making better revenues despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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According to Mckinsey, businesses that adopt a digital transformation approach report faster product launches, better customer experiences, and reduced tech development costs.
Do you also have a brick-and-mortar store that COVID-19 disrupted? If yes, then digital transformation is the way to ensure smooth functioning and success for your business in the sense that transforming your business to e-commerce brings you as many sales as one could only ever imagine.
Since some businesses digitized to e-commerce and many others followed suit, the industry expects to grow to $1 trillion by 2025.
But, do you know what digital transformation actually is? Scroll down further,
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation means bringing technology to your offline business operations. Technology such as conversational AI bots, machine language, and blockchain help you manage your business through the internet without any security risk.
Digital transformation does not only involve adapting to technology with your business but a complete gradual shift to online business. You adopt digital means such as cloud computing, POS systems for your omnichannel strategy, ERP systems to present correct invoice data to your customers.
You implement all these means to satisfy your customers in every possible way and carry your business forward.
By digitizing your business, you fulfill customer expectations that change with time, adapt to new norms in society, and tackle economic disruptions.
Digital transformations happen mostly at the time of disruption; like this period of pandemic looming over the world since 2020. Why? It’s because technology promises long-term growth. It will stay with you wherever you are at all times.
A lot of businesses suffered as the pandemic and big competitors like Amazon and eBay fell heavily on them. At last, they felt the need of accelerating digital transformation in COVID times and take their business online. After this digital revolution, they not only prevented further damages but also thrived exponentially.
What are the reasons behind this success of accelerating digital transformation in COVID times by small businesses that led to their move to e-commerce platforms? Let’s see…
Why did online businesses grow after their transformation from small offline businesses?
As small businesses went through a transition from offline business to online business, they grew due to the following reasons-
Touchless payments grew
Consumers adopted real-time payment options to make contactless payments quickly and securely. Real-time payments mean payments through mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, and Zelle.
Online buyers explore products online
Consumers became more reliant on online reviews since COVID times. They depended more on reviews to decide their purchase. Most of them checked for reviews online and then purchase from a brick-and-mortar store. They even decided to buy from the online store therein.
Consumers shopped because of convenience
Customers were prepared to pay higher prices if online stores offered seamless checkout and flexible payments across multiple devices. They were able to access the same shopping cart from mobile phones if they could not use desktops.
Social media brought endless buyers
Facebook and Instagram regularly updated themselves to make 100% in-app purchases possible. As these platforms effort in making the buying process easy, 76% of Instagram users shopped through the app repeatedly.
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Experts speak on digital transformation for small businesses during COVID-19 in this video-
Experts in this video talk about how COVID-19 pushed small businesses to transition into online platforms. The COVID caused the decline in retail sales to 18.1% and many startups and SMEs took the exit from the market. Thus, COVID posed severe challenges to businesses.
But users of online platforms increased which resulted in the growth of online sales. This ever-growing number of users will drive the growth of online platforms even when the pandemic is over.
E-commerce sectors that grew in the times of pandemic-
Major sectors that went for digital transformation during COVID-19 and moved from offline business to online business-
- Around 50000, schools and colleges across the US closed due to the pandemic.
- This closure led to a surge in users on online education platforms.
- Udemy’s Massive Open Online Course saw a 425% increase in enrolments.
- More than 3000 colleges and universities joined Coursera’s CourseMatch program.
- Analysts predict that the online education industry will grow by $350 billion by 2025.
- More than 3,50,000 fitness instructors and trainers in the US shifted to virtual classes.
- 72% of fitness club owners began to offer on-demand or live-streamed workouts.
- The $92 billion fitness industry adopted digital transformations.
- 80% of Mindbody users used fitness streaming services in 2020.
- Tens of millions of US consumers bought groceries online for the first time.
- Online grocery sales grew by 54% in 2020.
- Instacart saw a 500% jump in order volume.
- FreshDirect saw a 60% increase in visits.
- 60% of US consumers wanted to try telehealth services in 2020.
- 48% of US physicians treated patients virtually.
- Teladoc reported 50% week-over-week growth within a week of lockdown orders.
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What’s new when it comes to online stores- features that are a must-have
As you participate in accelerating digital transformation in COVID times and transition from your offline business to online business, consider these essential trending elements that are necessary, to begin with-
1. Quick order processes-
A smooth order process plays a greater role in the success of your digital transformation during COVID-19 when you start an eCommerce platform. A single tap on buy now CTA, bill summary on the checkout page, placing orders, tracking them, and then return, replace or refund- if all these processes go out smoothly, then nothing can beat your e-commerce store.
Because of an easy order process and lockdown issues during the pandemic, buyers got more confident in buying online. They saw the benefits of online business during COVID-19. That is why online spending increased by 44% in 2020.
Consumers shop online because of these reasons-
- Easy returns policy
- Quick checkout process
- Next day delivery
- 24/7 availability
- Promotional offers
- Product rates and reviews
To fasten the pace of orders fulfillment on your online store, ensure an order management system that-
- Tracks orders by communicating with your warehouses or physical stores.
- Allows you to solve unexpected problems that occurred during the fulfillment process.
- Provides the ability to order from anywhere and anytime.
Ensuring order processes that deliver orders within 2 days like Amazon is an essential part of digital transformation during COVID-19
2. Augmented reality(AR)
Augmented reality (AR) is a strategic move in the course of digital transformation during COVID-19. It changes the fate of your e-commerce business because it helps your buyers choose products that perfectly fit them. They are left in no state of the question whether their ordered products turn out to be right or unfit for them.
When the e-commerce sector was still in its emerging state, the inability to feel a product was the only barrier between buyers and an e-commerce website that prevented them from buying.
But AR software removed this barrier also by giving an almost near-world view of your products. AR enables you to deliver the best customer experience as users tend to satisfactorily find the product they are looking for.
Research reveals that over 60% of customers prefer to buy from online stores having AR features rather than from their competitors. AR software has been one of the benefits of online business during COVID-19.
Burrow, an online furniture retailer, uses AR software for its buyers to match the furniture with their home surroundings. Its app, Burrow at Home, lets buyers scan the floor or wall of their homes to get a customized sofa.
Even Amazon US uses AR software to sell the products that buyers exactly wanted.
3. Mobile commerce
In this shift from offline business to online business, focus strongly on mobile commerce too. People now use mobiles and tablets more than their desktops to buy something online. And today, there are more than 6 billion smartphone users in this world, several hundred million more to add by 2024.
Another survey says that m-commerce will generate 72.9% of e-retail sales in 2021. This stat ensures the fact that if someone is willing to invest in starting an e-commerce business, he should consider mobile commerce too as it is an extra source of revenue. You will receive lots of similar benefits of online business during COVID-19 if you optimize your online store for mobile.
The mobile web layout for best experience does not limit buyer’s ability to purchase and it has-
- Spaciously laid out menus and bigger buttons.
- The content fits well to both horizontal and vertical orientation.
- Useful native apps that buyers do not need to navigate your website anywhere else. They simply download the app and use it.
- PWAs that provide the same experience as native apps but do not require downloading. It also works well when you do not have an internet connection.
4. Flexible payment options
Lack of preferred payment options is one of the major reasons for cart abandonment. That is why your new e-commerce website must offer a range of payment options, especially when accelerating digital transformation in COVID times. Online payments play a crucial role at the time of digital transformation during COVID-19. The most trending ones are-
- Bank transfer
Multiple payment options leave no way to let your sales run out of your hand as buyers find all of their preferred ones. Having multiple payments creates regular customers and this one of the benefits of online business during COVID-19 that your online store will enjoy.
Some facts about online payment options-
- 44.5% of payments around the world are done through mobile wallets in 2020.
- By 2024, 51.7% of online spending will be done through mobile wallets.
- Credit and debit cards stand at the second and third most popular payment options currently.
5. The emerging trend of BOPIS-
The buy-online-in-store-pickup(BOPIS) shipping option is gaining popularity among buyers and e-commerce marketplace retailers because-
- Shoppers save shipping costs.
- They receive items quickly rather than waiting for days.
- The BOPIS system assures them stock availability.
- This system creates opportunities for retailers to upsell their products.
BOPIS is the best omnichannel strategy you imply if you run a physical store along with your e-commerce one. This shipping option increases the footfall of your brick-and-mortar store and delivers both online and offline experiences to your customers.
This option picked up pace in the COVID-19 pandemic that by the end of 2021, 90% of retailers will implement the BOPIS system in their business.
Buyers favor this shipping option-
- 59% of buyers took interest in the BOPIS shipping option,
- 30% of BOPIS users showed interest for the first time in the pandemic.
- Target’s curbside pickup grew by 734% y-o-y in 2020.
6. Conversational bots
Google and Amazon created a hype of conversational chatbots with their Google Assistants and Alexa. As they help customers quickly resolve their issues, many online platforms are also bringing in this technology to grow their businesses.
Executives being interviewed in a survey answered that emails and chatbots impacted the most in their online business growth.
In the process of digital transformation during COVID-19, conversational bots benefit both the customers and businesses in ways–
- Customers get instant answers to their questions
- Resolve their complaints without wasting time in making calls and waiting for executives to get connected.
- Get complete details on their queries.
- Get a quick answer to questions.
- The smart AI tools of chatbots help you predict customer preferences and then present them with the best services.
- Chatbots nurture leads by responding to their queries immediately.
What customers would use chatbots for?
Cedcommerce streamlines the transition to e-commerce business
Disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic can happen in the future again. Your brick-and-mortar store can face disasters again. Only benefits of online business during COVID-19 will bring forth success. Nothing but accelerating digital transformation in COVID times saves your business as a great number of internet users are habitual of online shopping now. They saw how e-commerce was convenient in times of pandemic- they just initiated orders within a few taps.
Best Buy went completely bankrupt in 2012 but digital transformation and a new CEO regained the image it enjoys today-playing in billions of dollars.
Cedcommerce has expertise in launching a successful e-commerce platform, where not only you but third-party sellers sell on it. It makes sure that your multi-vendor eCommerce platform has PWA, native apps, CRMs, Paypal and Stripe integrations, ERP and POS solutions, and much more.