Digital is the way forward: How Indian SMEs and MSMEs can scale up their productivity and profitability through active online presence Just a few years ago, having an online presence was quite a big deal for Indian SMEs and MSMEs until they were hit by the much-needed wave of digitalization. Back then, most companies were reluctant to take part in online sales, and some even considered websites as their major tool to show digital footprint. However, those days are history now. Today, online presence has become the top-most priority of every business when it comes to increasing their conversion rates. Innovations in the form of emerging technologies, increasing smartphone penetration and easilyaffordable internet have effectively enabled SMEs and MSMEs to globally expand their businesses, and in turn, give consumers the power to shop and transact online. At present, India houses a total of 42.5 million SMEs. 43 per cent of these SMEs have an online presence, and are currently able to expand customer reach, and make significant profits by leveraging digital tools and innovative strategies.
It is, therefore, crucial for both the existing and new-age businesses to build an online presence while equally taking care of offline aspects. Here are some tips that will help businesses achieve these goals. Leverage Advertising Tools – For a company to deliver unique digital content to its customers, it is important to leverage the right and effective advertising tools. For instance, tools such as display ads and sponsored products help companies to amplify their brand presence by accurately placing ads on different social media platforms. These tools enable the companies to target the right audience and display the ads with correct relevance. Moreover, it’s a well-known fact that social media has a huge customer presence, almost 24x7, which makes it easier for companies to bring in newer audiences. Apart from leveraging these tools, companies should also ensure that they create and deliver SEO-driven content and, of course, succinct product reviews on their websites.
Automating the Manual Chores– Automation is an effective way of improving and speeding up the communication process of any business. Today, every business has a large set of contacts, which they continuously have to interact with, thereby maintaining longstanding relations. This becomes difficult if done manually. In addition to improving the communication channel, adopting the right technology transforms the business practices across multiple fronts. It adds accuracy and efficiency to the overall business operations and helps in better decision making.
Right technology gives SMEs and MSMEs access to right data and information and helps them understand customers’ changing shopping patterns, and eventually create exact offerings that they look for. Investing in Artificial Intelligence–Although AI is still fresh for SMEs and MSMEs, many businesses have already started to invest in it. AI-based solutions can enable companies to effectively mitigate operational inefficiencies, and thus significantly improve their processes to deliver meaningful services to customers. For instance, companies have to deal with a slew of manual tasks such as analyzing the cash flow, which can sometimes be a sheer time-consuming work. AI engines, however, can easily address such challenges and eliminate them by using intelligent algorithms and analytics. Understand Millennials – With the rapid rise of the millennial populace and their increasing purchasing power, businesses should realize that this generation is going to dominate the entire country. These people are tech-savvy, knowledge-driven and love to experiment with newer offerings. Given their active social media presence, companies should, therefore, focus more on developing video content, and innovate mobile marketing to increase millennial engagement. At present, there are many SMEs that are doing wonders by following this millennial approach, and thus able to widen their reach.
Cloud transition – Cloud technology isn’t new. In fact, it has significantly advanced with time in terms of ensuring clarity, affordability, and management across various businesses. By leveraging Cloud, businesses can get rid of challenges such as password management, unorganized emails while ensuring customer relationship management (CRM) and scaling up productivity. A recent study "Socio-Economic Impact of Cloud Adoption by SMBs" highlights that adopting this technology has brought a multiplier effect of 1.5 times and 3 times in terms of productivity and profitability, respectively. Despite knowing the benefits of emerging technologies, several SMEs and MSMEs still feel reluctant to go digital and leverage these tools. In today’s technology-driven world, they shouldunderstand that experimenting and adopting innovative business approaches are like the key practices that every business should strictly follow. Besides, there are online platforms that are acting as global arbitrators of product and services for smaller businesses by initiating, assisting, and managing their international trade. They establish a digital store for an array of products and services being offered by a business, considerably enhancing its market outreach. The biggest boon for small businesses is that these platforms facilitate international trade irrespective of a business’ shape, size, or offerings. Such marketplaces empower businesses to discover a new avenue of demand for their product or raw material and also help SMEs’ increase their competitiveness vis-à-vis big businesses by leveraging their own business associations and channel partnerships across international markets. Apart from extending a conducive platform, they help SMEs to experience and cater to consumer demand within a prospective market firsthand without risking any capital. If man and machine had to come together, this is definitely the right time. SMEs and MSMEs should, therefore, unfollow traditional business models that focussed only on operating via offline channels, and start following an omnichannel approach to increase their reach and draw in customers through giving them access to seamless business services. This is new India, and that’s how businesses can create value for their customers.