One of the few bright spots of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the trend toward consumers rallying around small businesses to help them survive. Many of the technologies that have risen to prominence during the pandemic have done so by helping those businesses — which typically depend on a traditional brick-and-mortar business model — connect to their customers through various small digital transformations like increased online ordering and delivery capabilities. But as things begin to look up, how can those businesses not only continue to stay afloat but also capitalize on the momentum they’ve been able to build?
Through technology and creative strategies, small businesses can evolve to keep up with bigger companies and even beat them at their own game from time to time. Generally speaking, they should be looking to reinvent and reimagine their businesses in four main areas — all of which should ultimately work together to create a seamless experience for the customer:
- Unique brick-and-mortar showroom experiences.
- Online presence.
- Inventory location and logistics.
- Multi-purpose company vehicles.
Brick-And-Mortar And Inventory Location
Even before Covid-19, there was a certain segment of shoppers who would use traditional brick-and-mortar retail locations as a way to see, touch and try on products before ultimately deciding to buy them online. The pandemic has essentially eliminated any distinction between what can be bought online and what can’t, and it could take years for people to entirely accept the idea of going back into a store to browse and buy the way they once did. As a small business, rather than try to fight this trend, why not lean into it to create a unique retail experience that also caters to customers’ desires for convenience and added safety?
As we aim to successfully navigate a new normal, what if we flip the traditional retail model on its head? That way we get something that not only is immediately feasible but can also be less expensive, more efficient and maybe more in line with what modern customers are accustomed to in the first place. Instead of paying exorbitant retail square footage rates, most of which is used for storing inventory anyway, a post-pandemic retailer should consider creating a unique and intimate showroom space where customers can easily find the products they like and then have them delivered quickly — sometimes within 24 hours — from warehouse space that is often less costly to lease.
This model means that small businesses will need to embrace technology more than ever. They should consider not just marketing and customer engagement but the types of technology tools that the largest companies in the world are using to help better operate their businesses and deliver cost-effective goods and services to their customers.
The same technologies that have been used to help businesses survive since the emergence of Covid-19 should now be actively employed and expanded as part of the business plan. At some point, it becomes about the convergence of online shopping and things like live chat as opposed to a live operator at the other end of a phone — using specific technology for a specific purpose. From a business development perspective, it’s about sourcing software and services that work together and interconnect as part of a larger business strategy.
Of course, weaving those technology solutions into more traditional business practices can also be a great way to grow and evolve as a small business. Among the most prolific and successful businesses during the pandemic have been web- and mobile app-based delivery services. Those services provide a model that can be followed by small businesses — whether they’re looking simply to add delivery services to their existing business or even create a business that’s entirely mobile. Either way, there is room to leverage the same types of technology platforms used by their multimillion-dollar counterparts in the market — platforms like telematics.
Multi-Purpose Company Vehicles
For small business owners already using vehicle fleets, the use of telematics technology remains largely centered on the GPS location. Beyond that is the ability to provide insight into their vehicles’ total operating costs (TOC) and return on investment. There is also an opportunity to measure to some extent employee safety and find use in data sharing between vehicles in the fleet and office software.
Whether a company’s vehicles are used as part of the business or as the business itself, they represent a tangible and relatively simple way to help tie everything together for an emerging or evolving small business. Those vehicles equipped with modern technologies like telematics can help personalize the customer experience and help save money.
While the brick-and-mortar model still represents what most shoppers want and expect from a small business, it also now represents, in many cases, a shift toward a lower cost-per-square-footage model with an emphasis on high-visibility displays of inventory that are practically stored somewhere else — for less money. The delivery becomes a potentially viral finishing touch to the transaction, right down to the look and feel of the vehicle and the packaging of the product itself — all of which creates a satisfying, modern customer experience and helps with a competitive edge for the small business.
Article Source: Forbes.com
Date Published: Aug 12 2021
Article Link: Click Here
Author: Colin Sutherland