Digitalisation has never been a necessity to businesses before the Covid-19 pandemic, as it has always been perceived as technical and pricey. Even though many businesses have started to turn digital before the pandemic, the digital marketing platform has still not been fully utilised by most, despite the fact that digitisation increases productivity, efficiency, and economies of scale. This is mainly due to the fact that they rely heavily on physical stores and outlets to increase their sales and boost public awareness regarding their brands.
Current Business Landscape
The business landscape has long since changed after the implementation of the first Movement Control Order. Non-essential businesses were forced to close temporarily, not to mention mass gatherings were banned throughout the country for an indefinite period of time. 70 per cent of SMEs recorded a 50 per cent drop in business in just the span of a week. (Amos & Rachel, 2020)
With that, many businesses realised the need to provide their businesses with online platforms in order to survive the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a study conducted by the Malaysian University Consortium, the use of digital technology significantly raises SME efficiency. SMEs who were active on social media saw a 26 per cent increase in productivity, while those that employed e-commerce saw a 27 per cent increase in productivity. Furthermore, advanced digital technologies such as data processing systems have the ability to improve SME efficiency by up to 60 per cent. (The Impact of Covid-19 on SME Digitalisation in Malaysia)
Many believe that digitising businesses is all about posting detailed descriptions of their products online through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg, where in truth, competition among online businesses is extremely high and there is always a high chance for certain products to not be seen and recognised by potential consumers at all!
In fact, there is so much more to consider in the digital business world to successfully market your business online.
Creating an official website is known to be the first step to delve into the world of digital business. Businesses with an official website can establish a better online brand presence as well as increase consumers’ confidence in purchasing the products. Moreover, it is more secure and professional too!
For instance, a secure payment gateway and order forms are available to ensure a smooth shopping experience for consumers. Aside from that, the opportunity for customers to check for general details on the website increases productivity and revenue. Zheelyn Collection stated that clients were more confident in purchasing their products due to the fact that they increased the payment options on their payment gateway.
Reasons to Digitalise Your Business
One of the main reasons to digitise a business is to be able to serve clients from all over the world at any time of the day! The live chat function available on the website can increase customer service professionalism and conversion rate as well by responding to inquiries quickly. Hence, it is definitely more convincing to consumers when they can access information about your products and services with a professional website available online.
The thoughts and benefits of digitising business sound amazing, but the fact that many believe that it is technical and pricey stops them from going digital. Many SMEs are plausibly unaware of government digitalisation programmes and incentives. As 60 per cent of SMEs stated funding as an obstacle to digitalisation, and they were unaware of the available financing choices.
With that being said, there are various incentives offered to SMEs to aid them in digitising their business. Exabytes’ Sama-Sama Digital is one of the programmes available out there to aid many SMEs in digitalisation. LLORA Bath & Body, Coolscarf, Zheelyn Collection, and many more have successfully stepped foot in the digital business world since the first Movement Control Order was implemented.
LLORA Bath & Body stated that with the subsidy offered by Exabytes, they are able to digitise their business with low start-up fees and an affordable annual plan.
Coolscarf mentioned that switching online makes the business 24/7 accessible for their clients with real-time catalogue, thus, they have since gained up to a 40% increase in their sales.
In an increasingly digital economy, digitalisation is vital to their long-term survival. The Covid-19 has boosted digitalisation in general, and SMEs in Malaysia are slowly embarking on this journey to improve business continuity. With the availability of government programmes, subsidies and incentives for SMEs to digitalise their businesses, we are confident that the journey to digitalisation for SMEs is no longer a hurdle and they can thrive by digitalising in the long run.
Read success stories of SMEs who embarked on the digitalisation journey and witness success.