Are you still using a typewriter to type out your invoices? Do you keep track of your customer information using an Excel spreadsheet? If so, it might be time to digitize your business. Digitizing your business can seem like a daunting task, but it can really be key to unlocking more productivity, boosting customer engagement, and improving insight into your business model.
That digital transformation can be crucial to saving you a ton of time and helping you reach greater heights of profitability. In this blog post, we will discuss what “going digital” really means, the basics of digitizing your business and how you can get started!
Why Is Digitizing Your Business Important?
In the digital age, businesses that haven’t modernized their business processes with the digital tools available are at a serious disadvantage!
Customers Are Tech Savvy
Today, customers expect a digital customer experience and to be able to interact with businesses online and via mobile devices with around the clock availability.
If you are not ready to provide your customers with the kind of digital customer support and engagement your competitors already provide, they will have no problem going elsewhere.
If you’re still using paper documents to run your business, you can boost your organizational efficiency in a major way by going digital.
Just by using cloud based technologies like Dropbox instead of trying to keep track of physical documents, you can save time and money, decrease mistakes, drop turnaround times, and ensure that your employees are all on the same page looking at the same digital documents.
And if you’re still using paper invoices, you might be spending hours every week inputting data into your accounting software. But if you digitize your invoices with invoicing software, you can eliminate that tedious task, cut costs and free up your time for other tasks.
Business Digitization Can Lower Costs
By going digital, you can also prioritize where you spend your money. For example, as digital technology enables more workers to work from home (which many prefer anyway), you may be able to reduce your need for expensive office space, and in some cases eliminate it completely.
Use Date to Gain Insights
Finally, digitizing business processes can help you gain insights that you wouldn’t otherwise have. When you have all of your data in one place, it’s easier to analyze and make decisions. You might be able to identify trends that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, even without having to put data scientists on the job.
For example, if you digitize your customer data, you might notice that a certain type of customer is more likely to churn. This information can be invaluable in developing a retention strategy for your customers.
Digital Transformation Keeps You Ahead of the Competition
The idea of using technology to digitize your business is not a new concept. Businesses have taken advantage of the technology available to them to out-compete other businesses in their space since the Stone Age.
The digital technology we have now, has just raised the game, allowing businesses to reach and develop relationships with more customers than ever before. Even something like a digital customer loyalty program which is relatively simple to add to a business strategy can bring significant value to the customer through goodies and perks, while improving customer retention and providing valuable insights into customer behavior.
Whole Foods, for example, was an early adopter of business digitization. In 1999 they launched their first digital customer loyalty program which allowed them to track customer purchase behavior, leverage customer data and offer personalized discounts. By 2009 they had 20 million members enrolled in the program.
What Are the Steps to Digitizing Your Business?
There are a few key steps you’ll need to take to digitize your business. First, you’ll need to assess which areas of your business operations would benefit from a digital strategy. Don’t rush your decision process!
You’ll also need to develop a digital transformation roadmap which will help you implement your strategy. This roadmap should include a plan for addressing any resistance to change within your organization, project timelines, and budget considerations.
Some of your employees may be uncomfortable with change. Address any resistance head-on before it has any chance to fester.
Once you have your roadmap in place, you can start digitizing your business processes one by one. As you digitize each process, thoughtfully consider which processes will benefit most from digitization next and focus on them one-by-one.
As you implement your digital transformation project, make sure that all of your employees are comfortable with the new digital environment and onboard with the new digital format. You’ll be able to see the benefits in terms of increased efficiency and productivity, insights gained, and money saved.
7 Easy Ways to Digitize Your Business
Okay, now that you have the basic process for starting a digital transformation, here are some easy examples of digital initiatives that can go a long way to improving your bottom line and taking your business to a new level.
Add a Digital Ecommerce Platform
If you have been a traditional bricks and mortar business, it is absolutely vital to add a digital ecommerce platform to your business so you can expand your customer base and streamline your sales.
This is especially important if you operate in any niche space where reaching as many people as possible is vital. An independent music store in New York City specializing in musical theatre albums might have once been limited to customers in the Greater Tri-State area, but through the magic of a digital ecommerce platform, it can serve customers not only coast to coast, but around the world.
Shopify, an e-commerce software platform, has made opening an online storefront easy and affordable for virtually any business.
It goes without saying at this, but if you’re still using paper for your business records, you need to go digital. Using a cloud-based technologies like Dropbox for your documents, Quickbooks for your accounting and invoices, and others can go a long way to making your business more efficient and lower costs.
Even if you’re attached to your fax-machine, you can still upgrade to a cloud-based version of your existing process. New cloud-based fax services like eFax and MetroFax are available which make faxing easy, affordable, and much more secure for both you and your customers.
Hone In On Your Target Audience With Digital Marketing
All kinds of businesses can take advantage of the many digital tools now available for marketing. From social media, email marketing, paid online advertising, or even digital billboards and more, a well-crafted digital marketing strategy can be a smart and cost-effective way to get your message out to your target audience.
And contrary to popular belief, even if you are a local business you can still benefit a lot from digital marketing by setting geolocation limits on your campaign.
Digitize Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
We’ve already talked about the importance of digitizing the customer experience now, but for many businesses, the key to managing that customer experience and the customer relationship as a whole is through a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
That may sound scary but all a CRM system is is a software system which allows your business to manage the customer relationship and how your interact with customers and/or clients from one place.
It also allows everyone in your business from sales to marketing to business development and senior management to see those customer interactions how the customer experience is being managed, and what is working well.
Because CRM systems provide businesses with a centralized view of its customer interactions, it can really help a business focus on which parts of its current processes are really driving success and identify areas that need to be overhauled.
Hire the Best… Anywhere
One of the major benefits of digitizing your business processes is being able to hire the best people available for your team, no matter where they are.
Of course, many successful companies have been taking advantage of low-cost offshore resources for a long-time now, including hiring teams of remote workers from places like Eastern Europe and India, but now it’s not just about hiring the cheapest developers or customer support team. It’s about hiring the BEST.
Create an App for Your Business
Have you thought about adding an app to your business?
It’s almost a cliché at this point, but apps really have played a crucial role in the digital transformation of many businesses. Apps allow businesses to interact directly with their customers, creating a seamless experience that cuts out the middleman, improving both profits and the customer relationship.
By working with smart user experience designers, a business can leverage an app to build greater brand awareness, reach more customers, interact with those customers more immediately, cut out any middleman fees to give a big boost to their profit margins.
To give one recent example, the restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s rethought their business model which had primarily based around on-site dining to take advantage of delivery and to-go orders which had been considered an afterthought in their business model. Self-delivery through their mobile became a major moneymaker, and sales grew over 30% in 2021.
Leverage the Data to Digitize Your Business
One of the biggest benefits of business digitization is the insights you will gain into your business: who your customers really area, what they really like and want to buy, what your greatest expenses are, and so on and so forth.
It may take some time to gather enough data for your decision process to kick in, but when it does, it will go a long way to increased profits and a better bottom line.
Bottom Line: Business Digitization Can Pay Dividends!
While it may seem daunting to digitize your business, the payoff can be huge in terms of increased productivity, customer engagement, and profits. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and digitize your business today!