The digital revolution, in turn giving rise to the Internet on personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, has sparked such change in the business world that many large incumbent companies are still transitioning a little slowly into the online space, where much of the retail sector seems to be moving irreversibly. While in retail specifically, it’s clear that consumers are interested in shopping from the comfort of their couch for convenience’s sake, in many other industries the benefits of the digital world for businesses are less clear-cut. Here’s a quick run-through of these benefits, and how to maximize them for your company.
As mentioned above, the digital revolution has ushered in an unprecedented period of convenience culture that can only be compared to the previous revolution in industrial technology and, closer to home, the advent of appliances such as the dishwasher and the washing machine. The result is that consumers can slash the time they spend shopping for groceries, clothes, gifts, cars, insurance, healthcare, homes or pets by a huge percentage, which means they are free to spend more time doing what they want to do in their lives.
The upshot of this trend is that to go against it even in a minor way is to drive traffic away from your site to a site offering a more streamlined service. This means a simple and easily navigable web platform that will get the consumer to the point of delivery in three clicks or less. This means linking with a respected and simple payment system, and it means cutting down the amount of time a consumer has to wait to get in contact with you if they have a question about your product. Enjoy jumping on the convenience bandwagon by streamlining all your online services to meet this trend towards simplicity.
Whatever your business, you’ll be deeply interested in onboarding new customers at all times in order to increase your customer base which, in turn, will increase your sales, revenue, and profits. For the traditional non-digital business, this might have meant some marketing in the form of poster and leaflet campaigns; now it means setting up some powerful social media accounts or SEO work, like that offered by 180fusion, in order to scale Google’s search results, thus directing an increasing amount of speculative search engine users to your site, your product and your brand.
The best part of the digital space from this perspective is the ability of companies to go about targeted marketing to specific audiences and demographics that they believe are most likely to engage with their brand. For instance, marketing on Snapchat and Instagram – largely used by the 16-25 age group – will suck in that sort of clientele. In general, then the ability of company websites to present themselves right in front of appropriate consumers has risen dramatically since the advent of the world wide web; using this ability through outsourced marketing methods is the best way of taking advantage of this new ability to target and harvest new customers.
Individuals value communication above all else when it comes to building trust between people. As trust is such a vital component of all business, it’s no surprise that the globalization of business has taken an upturn since the invention of the international phone call, the advent of Skype, and, nowadays, a variety of instant-messaging communications that makes communication between either side of the world almost instantaneous and incredibly useful for the conduct of important business. Whether between partnering companies or import/export business hubs, digital communication forms the backbone of many of the international business institutions we value so highly today.
When it comes to your own business, there will naturally be an element of communication that can be made more effective and efficient by digital technology. It might be that communication with international clients can be done from phones and tablets on the move, or that email lists can fly out across the world when you have special offers on your website. Perhaps most usefully of all for more localized businesses based in communities around the US, the fact that someone can drop an instant message or an emailed question into your inbox and you’ll be able to instantly reply means that you’re able to engage with your customer so much earlier than businesses could in the past.
The final feature of the digital world to really influence business is in company accountability. There are several different examples of this one could cite. Boycotting movements of products and services begin and end online; if a company is perceived to be wrong for society, social media reacts, bad publicity is created, and shares can plummet, all in the space of an hour. Likewise, price comparison websites make it easier than ever to decide on the best-value good without taking your notebook out to the store with you, while review sites make us aware of where to shop or who to trust, thanks to the compiled data from other internet users.
The upshot for business is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if your company is well-structured and receives good feedback for the service and product, and overall comes across well in the transparency and accountability available through the internet, then you can benefit in a big way from this system. Online reviews can be incredibly beneficial for your business. On the other hand, though, poor reviews and social media outcries can damage a business like nothing else, so this aspect of the digital world might prove to be a win for consumer power in terms of holding poor businesses to account.
The business world has had to adjust to the changing economic landscape as whole industries and stores shift online to capture new market shares in far more efficient and creative ways. While you may run a large business or a small start-up, being aware of the changing environment is a crucial part of running your business in an efficient and modern fashion, so keep these points in mind when considering the direction of your online business.