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5 Ways to Digitize Your Business in a Virtual Economy

By Diane Amato

Published February 22, 2021 • 5 Min Read

Introducing technology into your business can have a strong impact on productivity and profitability, making it easier to reach your target audience, market your products and services and offer an enhanced customer experience. From managing supply to cash flow to customer service, here are five ways to digitize your business.

1. Digitize Customer Communications and Engagement

By moving customer communications to a digital environment, you can not only save time and money, but you can also deliver on the immediacy, personalization and convenience consumers now expect from businesses of every type and size. Not only that, consumer marketing has moved from a one-way paradigm to a two-way conversation, and digital communication makes it simpler to keep up with expectations. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Build or maintain a functional, service-based website. This is where prospects will pre-screen your business, shoppers will search for product availability and in many cases buy from you

  • Automate simple interactions. Add an automated chatbot to your web site to provide always-on service. Search for highly rated chat bots to add to your web site.

  • Implement live chat and social media messaging platforms to respond to personal and specific questions and requests.

  • Boost your social media presence to deliver timely updates on your business (promotions, hours, pick-up procedures) and build your brand personality online. Create Facebook promotions or a virtual live event to build your community.

  • Lean on email for proactive communication about your business. For example, if you have consent and are CASL compliant, regularly email a newsletter to customers.

If your business relies on a loyal customer base, invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. It can help manage customer sales history and uncover trends in revenue down to the customer level. And, use lead-generation tools to build your customer base and convert interest to sales.

2. Digitize your supply chain

The goal of moving your supply chain to a digital environment is to minimize waste and increase productivity. Here are some ways to transform your existing supply chain process:

  • Invest in inventory-management software. Inventory software systems can allow you to manage your inventory and check stock levels in real-time. More complete systems will also send automatic low inventory notifications and generate purchase orders to replenish your stock.

  • Move your supply chain to the cloud. Cloud-based services can connect everyone in the supply chain, giving you visibility throughout every part of your network. Cloud-based supply chain management further allows you to respond to rapidly changing demands, monitor delivery networks and react to volatility — before it becomes a problem.

3. Streamline your finances and accounting

While paper invoices and cheques are still used across businesses, the digital transformation of payments, deposits and accounting has become as easy as it is efficient, thanks to the multitude of solutions available. For example, you can:

  • Request and receive payments from customers by using Interac e-Transfer. With the Autodeposit feature, you instantly and securely receive funds without having to log on and answer a security question.

  • Deposit cheques using your mobile device.

  • Set up one-time or ongoing direct deposits for supplier payments.

  • Pay vendors online using a credit card.

  • Use invoice and accounting software to keep track of cash flow, forecasting and automate bill payments.

4. Digitize your staffing model

The world of work has been changing rapidly over the last several years — then it underwent a massive shift in 2020. Given the pandemic, technology took on a major role in keeping businesses connected with customers and with each other.

Having a platform in place that can sustain remote work practices will allow you to keep your business running as smoothly as possible — through the pandemic and beyond. It can even allow you to expand your recruiting efforts to well-outside your geographical area, enabling you to tap into the national — or even international — talent pool.

Human Resource functions such as payroll, benefits enrolment, vacation planning and recruiting can all be digitized, driving more efficiency for your business, on-demand support for your employees, and cast a wider net for future hiring.

5. Use data to support your decision-making

Once you have implemented digital processes across your business, you can use the data you have gathered to inform and support the decisions you make about the operation and growth of your business.

For example, you can use data to determine the most cost-effective way to promote a new product, which marketing channel gets the best Return on Investment (ROI), which sales activities generate the most leads and which customer service channels improve response times. You can also use data you’ve collected to understand actions shoppers take on your website by reviewing metrics such as cart abandonment, average order size and browsing behaviour.

Bottom Line

Business of all types, sizes and industry had already begun a path to digitization before COVID-19 – but the pandemic served to accelerate many planned implementations from back office operations to customer communications.

And while the benefits of digitizing — including operational efficiency, reduced costs, faster payments and increased customer loyalty — will be here to stay, the way in which technology will support business is likely to shift again as the world emerges from this crisis. It’s important to understand which tactics work best for your company as you move your business forward through 2021 and beyond.

Are You Ready For Your Company’s Digital Transformation?

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This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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