Getting past this pandemic is taking longer than we would like. Maybe longer than expected. Some business leaders are watching their profits fall to the floor as sales and revenue drop. Many are literally on the edge of a deadly cliff with the potential of complete collapse if things don’t get back to normal soon. But as companies begin to get back to business, they will likely find that some things have changed. New restrictions and customer skepticism may challenge the old ways of doing things. And as a result, technology may play a larger role than before.
The taste of technology
More customers have now tasted what it’s like to buy groceries online, order food for delivery or pickup, be entertained with streaming movies, and find just about anything else online. According to Amazon, they ramped up hiring with 100,000 new roles just to keep up with the demand of online ordering. Even students, from elementary through grad school were transitioned to online courses as teachers quickly adapted to new ways of learning. While people were safe at home, they discovered a new normal that, in some cases, will continue. Especially things that were useful and made their lives easier. This new expansive use of technology is very telling. It may require you to rethink how you plan to continue to do business.
What’s your new normal?
“Going back to normal” may not be an accurate statement for what will occur once businesses begin to reopen. Government guidelines and restrictions may force changes at least temporarily. Customers themselves may be slow in returning to their previous habits and routines. Retailers may find less shoppers in their stores and ramp up delivery options. Restaurants may need to reduce the number of dine-in customers as much as 50% of their previous on-site capacity.
On the flipside, many successful eCommerce sites may need to ramp up inventory and find better ways to meet growing demands. Creating new revenue streams to fill the gaps from lost sales may be the new norm. For many, integrating better software, apps, and online websites will help fill those voids.
Exploring the possibilities
Now is a good time to begin looking for ways to improve your business, increase revenue, and bring back customers. If you don’t offer online goods and services, now may be the time to develop new options for your customers. Shine a light on your inventory processes and customer interactions. Look for new and better ways to process transactions, collect and analyze data, and track progress. Consider better ways to communicate and collaborate with employees and customers.
Finding your solution
Ask yourself what you appreciate most when working with other companies and how you will use these in your own business. What new payment methods will you accept? What new mobile applications will you provide customers? How will you ensure data security? Should chatbots be in your new business plan? Is cloud computing in your future? What about HR software?
The beauty of technology
The beauty of dabbling in technology today is that most Americans already have smartphones, computers, and other devices. The playing field is all set and ready for you to play. Taking advantage of new and emerging technologies will help your business compete and provide many benefits. It will increase your productivity by speeding up your production processes. It will improve your customer service and marketing efforts. It will make you flexible and adaptable, which is something you could have used before this crisis began. Technology can also help keep you and your data safe.
Develop your technology plan
When you’re ready to take on technology, add software, or go online, be sure you have a plan in place. As with any business strategy, you’ll need to set your goals and determine what your priorities will be. It’s a good idea to start by assessing what you currently have in place and what’s missing. According to Inc.com, businesses should look at “which functions require or could benefit from technology.” Functions like order taking, accounting, inventory or database management, sales, communications, and marketing.
Ultimately, you will need to identify what your specific needs are and establish a budget for getting there. What is your timeline for implementing the new technology or software? Will additional training be required? What changes will take place in terms of staffing, employee roles, etc.?
Once you’ve determined what you’re looking to achieve, do your research. Which software should you consider? What custom software vendors should you contact? Take into consideration functionality, ease of use, cost, etc. Drafting a technology plan is not easy. Consider establishing a team to help you draft and finalize your plan.
Bringing back business
When the crisis is over, returning to full capacity will be a real challenge. And that is just the beginning. Growth is going to be more important than ever. Especially if you will need to find ways to decrease space while increasing revenue, improve safety, and woo customers back with a reassurance that you care. It may take twice the energy to create profitability. That’s where technology comes in. It will help you find new and efficient ways to increase your business even under new regulations and customer scrutiny.
Making your new normal work
Once you have a plan in place to bring technology into your new normal, it’s going to take some preparation and communication to all stakeholders including employees and customers. A one-time unveiling, like a piece of art, may not be a good idea. Think instead of releasing your plan in phases to make adjustments and allow employee and customer adaptability. And be prepared for bugs and fixes as you go along. A good software/technology vendor will have anticipated such needs and created a system that will accommodate them.
So, go ahead! Get ready to reopen your business with a new and improved way to get ahead of your new normal.
Bitbean is ready to help your business. Contact us today to learn how we can help you find ways to improve your processes.