By Rieva Lesonsky
Post sponsored by Alibaba.com
The word "transformation" evokes images of instant change. Like a magic act from Harry Houdini, one second the elephant is there, the next it is gone. But the digital transformation of small businesses has not quite moved at that pace. It has taken on more of a slower, evolutionary pace.
For many businesses, the pace worked, until earlier this year when a global pandemic shook the world and changed both business and consumer behavior patterns almost immediately.
If your business is still player acquisition, you need to start or accelerate the digitization process now. This can seem overwhelming, because there are so many parts: marketing, sales, customer experience and loyalty, raising money, hiring and retaining employees, buying, becoming global and more. Once your space is digitized, you have more time to focus on business and growth strategies.
When recording the digitization process, you can not ignore the effect of coronavirus. Most consumers have apps on their phones for restaurants and retailers they often do business with, order ahead and arrange for pickup on the sidewalk. It is part of the normalization of digital lifestyle.
Digitization of wallets
Consumers now have higher expectations of companies, because many went digital before companies did so. One area that customers are increasingly embracing is digital payments. While the offer of contactless payment options was a direction many companies were already heading towards, COVID-1
Consumers – and employees – are reluctant to exchange money or even a credit card with others. Contactless payment solutions allow customers to pay, either from their phones or by credit card, without any worries.
There are many contactless systems out there, including those from Square, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Stripe and PayPal.
A report from CardFlight shows that contactless payment transactions via smartphones and credit cards rose 107% from the week of March 2 to the week of June 29.
Coronavirus has made it more challenging to lure customers into your stores. You may need to incentivize them to trade with you, which digital customer loyalty solutions, such as Belly, Loyalzoo and Spendgo, can help you do.
Marketing goes digital
Marketing is another area where digitalisation has taken hold. After all, social media is nothing more than a digitized version of word of mouth marketing. We all know how effective email marketing is for small businesses, delivering a return of approximately 4100%, earning you $ 42 for every dollar you spend. There are a number of email marketing companies that can help you automate the email process, such as HubSpot, Constant Contact, AWeber and Mailchimp.
The ultimate way for some companies to digitize is to operate remotely. At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, if you are a reseller, you should have created a robust e-commerce platform to supplement lost in-store sales. And it may be a good time to consider whether you might be turning your retail into an online store, permanently.
E-commerce on the rise
Numerous reports and studies show that e-commerce is booming – despite the pandemic. StockApps.com reports data from the US Census Bureau showing a 31.8% increase in online sales in the second quarter of 2020 compared to Q1 sales, and a jump of 44.5% compared to Q2 in 2019. Total Online sales for the 2nd quarter reached $ 211.5 billion, or 16.1% of total retail sales, compared to 10.8% of all retail sales in the 2nd quarter of 2019.
And as we told you a few weeks ago , eMarketer adjusted its forecast for 2020 sales, noting that online sales are likely to increase 18% this year to $ 710 billion dollars.
Seize Opportunity During Super September
If you are a retailer, wholesaler or small manufacturer, you need to focus on your online sales. Fortunately, this month is Super September on Alibaba.com, where you can take advantage of the great promotions they offer.
One lesson that all retailers have hopefully learned this year is the need to diversify their supply chains. Super September is a great time to do that by exploring new vendors on Alibaba.com.
Over 30,000 salespeople are participating in Super September this year. Buyers can view the products in 3D reality and virtual showrooms and connect with potential partners from around the world.
Alibaba.com also offers special incentives including:
- discounts on livestream products
- Black Friday group purchase discounts
- New buyers can save up to $ 60 USD on transaction fees
- All buyers can save up to $ 200 USD on logistics by placing orders through Alibaba.com Freight
- Get 20% off third party on-site inspection service fees
And if you're worried about getting your goods from suppliers to your doors, do not. Alibaba.com Freight offers logistics assistance during Super September, making the shipping process less complex by helping business owners arrange bulk shipments and giving them the ability to compare, book, manage and track ocean and air freight instantly in real time online.  Exhibitions Become Virtual
Understanding the need to digitize Alibaba.com has taken the traditional fair and transformed them into twenty-first century versions. So many fairs and exhibitions have been canceled due to coronavirus. To fill the gap, Alibaba.com introduced Alibaba.com US online trade shows, which are category-specific virtual events, spread over several days, connecting US manufacturers and wholesalers with business buyers live online.
If you are worried small business is too small to successfully transform digitally, do not be. According to a McKinsey report, companies with less than 100 employees are 2.7 times more likely to experience a successful digital transformation than large corporate giants.
DON'T MISS: Ready to get back in business? Now is the perfect time to achieve your e-commerce game