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Your 5-step guide to digitising your business

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Most businesses know that elements of digitisation are important to stay competitive. Customer buying habits changed drastically at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – and they didn’t necessarily revert once lockdowns ended. It’s important to stay up to date with current trends and update your operations accordingly. Discover the five essential steps that can help your business thrive online in the current environment – and into the future.

Man using tablet in stockroom

The small business landscape has changed radically as a result of COVID-19. According to KPMG’s Australian Retail Outlook 2022 survey, 68.15% of businesses invested more in their digital business due to the pandemic. If you’re considering your business’s digital transformation, or wondering where to start, it’s important to consider how things have changed and decide if – and how – you can fine tune what you’ve already got in place. Here, we share our five steps to digitising your business.

1. Create and maintain your website

One in five consumers will stop considering a small business they haven’t used before if it doesn’t have a website, according to the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Digital Marketing. You can look to create one yourself or hire an expert  to build one for you – just make sure it’s easy to navigate with a simple structure and clearly labelled pages. In the Digital Marketing report, Paul Liascos from Spotzer says it’s important to get the basics right. “Tell your visitors who you are, what you do and what you don’t do in a really clear and concise way,” he says. Customers want to see your business information up front, so they know how to reach you and when you’re open. 

If there’s a business case for you to sell your products or services online, it could be time to open an eCommerce store. We’ve collated a list of 10 things to look for in an eCommerce store. You can also head here for a guide on how to determine a shipping cost method.

Customers now have higher expectations when it comes to delivery – but supply chain issues are expected to continue for some time. For more tips on how to manage your supply chain, take a look at our article ‘Shipping and delivery fundamentals: Managing shipping times and supply chain. Generally, customers will expect to easily find your returns policy and see accurate product information and availability on your website.

2. Invest in digital marketing

Digital marketing tools like search and social media can help you reach new customers. Search is the number one digital tool consumers use to help them find and choose businesses. But according to the Telstra Business Intelligence Digital Marketing report, two-thirds of SMBs say they do not use common search strategies like search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) that could make it easier for new customers to find them. 

Your social media content is an opportunity to show your authenticity and to keep customers up to date with changing business information. And if you invest in social media advertising, it can be an effective way to target specific groups of customers.

Find out how you can take your business’s digital marketing further with a free Telstra Business Go Digital Consult, and keep up to date with the 5 digital marketing trends small businesses should consider in 2022.

3. Enhance your online customer experience

You already know how to deliver a positive customer experience in person, but it’s important to make sure you’re providing the same level of service online – and customers expect to interact with your business differently since COVID-19. 

There are many things that shape how your business fares online, from how quickly you respond to queries (whether it’s via social media platforms or enquiries on your website) to the flexibility you offer for online transactions (such as online bookings and payment methods), whether you use data for personalisation, and if you integrate video or digital experiences into the customer journey. If you’re looking to dive deeper into how you can meet customer expectations online, take a look at our article on five unexpected ways to build customer loyalty and our quick guide to payment options to increase your revenue

4. Get cyber-secure – and show it

Although digitising your business brings plenty of opportunities, it can also increase the risk of a cyber incident – and if a breach does occur, it can severely impact your reputation and profits. Cyber threats have increased since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre Annual Cyber Threat Report (July 2020 to June 2021), “ransomware has grown in profile and impact, and… recorded a 15 per cent increase in ransomware cybercrime reports in the 2020–21 financial year”.

In the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Managing Risks Online, Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, suggests building cyber security into your digital business as you increase its capabilities. “Small businesses should consider security-by-design, privacy-by-design and user safety considerations which are balanced when securing the ongoing confidentiality, integrity and availability of personal data and information,” she says. Cyber security is a growing concern for customers, so it’s important you show them that you’re keeping their data secure.

5. Digitise how you work

Technology can help improve many areas of your business operations, from the way your team works to supply chain management and customer-facing purposes. Staff shortages due to COVID-19 will likely continue for some time, so it’s worth ensuring your digital processes factor this in. Cloud-based document storage is a great solution, as are cloud-based phone systems so that staff can have a call transferred to them seamlessly. Consider how you can continue to operate if a staff member is well but has to isolate, and what digital tools can help. 

Automating repetitive processes can help iron out inefficiencies and potentially save you hours each day – and if you adopt tech that is scalable, you’ll thank yourself in the long run as your business grows. Even the most essential processes like payments and invoicing can be made easier with cloud-based solutions or apps. There are tech solutions for just about any business, but if you’re not sure where to start, consider consulting an expert to help you determine which digital tools would suit your business needs.

The digital landscape is always evolving, and the ways customers interact with businesses online continue to shift in the pandemic world. But by making the most of tech, you can meet customer expectations, help prevent online threats and potentially increase efficiencies in the way your team works.

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