Human history has shown that any new technology invented and introduced to society will revolutionize how it works and lives. During the Industrial Revolution, society was forced to adapt to the new technology, else be left behind. This changed society from an agricultural one to manufacturing centres. Today, in the age of digital revolution and transformation, society has similarly been adapting and changing to the way they work, live, and communicate. Borders are being opened, and the accessibility to a global market has now become easier. Because of this, businesses are adapting as well to both the new technology and how they operate. However, for a traditional business set up, the transition to an online operation can be daunting.

What to Expect

Transforming a business into a digital platform challenges the business to look at their operations. The transition from a traditional business set up to online operations can result in fundamental changes in how a business operates, how they deliver their product or service, or even how they communicate with their customers. 

Expert Insight:  One of the most efficient ways to start transitioning a business to online operations is to do it in stages or sectors. In this way, the business, and its people, can make the necessary adjustments without creating a gap between the old way and the new digital platform.

Business owners should be open to the fact that they need to experiment on new ways to improve their system continually. Sometimes they will have to step away from their long-standing processes to make way for the new ones. Resistance to adhere to the new digital platform is also expected.

Advantages of Taking Your Business Online

Digital transformation technology closes the gap between what the customers online already expect and what a traditional business delivers. In 2019, global retail e-commerce sales reached up to 3.53 trillion US dollars. And it is projected to increase to 6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022. This shows that online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide. And although taking a brick and mortar business to an online operation may take a bit of work, there are several advantages to making a move from traditional to an online platform. 

Access to Global Consumers

As of April 2020, there are an estimated 4.57 billion active internet users worldwide. That is 59% of the total global population. With that number of potential consumers, transitioning to an online platform will potentially increase revenue while decreasing, ideally, overhead costs.  

Expert Insight: When transitioning to an online operation, it is advisable to create content that will target the market the business is aiming for. It may seem like a good idea to put a “generic” website and online operation but creating a well thought out digital business will separate it from others. 

Easier Access for Consumers

Having an online operation means having a global reach. Potential consumers outside of the business' local market can now get in touch with the business. They also now have access to information about the business without needing to be physically present.

Better Promotional Strategy with Lesser Cost

Approximately 3.725 billion people are active in social media since 2002. So, having an online presence will provide businesses with ways to connect with customers, advertise new products or services, promote existing ones, create business opportunities, and create a community of consumers online without the need for a big price tag attached to it.

Expert Insight: Before launching any promotional strategy, it is advisable to understand how to capture your target market. A well-curated, thought-out digital marketing plan will help a business trend and provide “free” advertising through the nature of content sharing in social media.

Implications of Lower Administration Cost

Another advantage of transitioning from traditional business set up to online operations is reducing certain administrative and overhead costs. Ideally, transitioning to an online platform will potentially reduce administration costs. By doing away with a physical store, a business can allocate overhead costs to business development, research and development, and other avenues in the business that will potentially drive it to success.

Expert Insight:  A business may choose to maintain it's brick and mortar business but increase its visibility online by having an online platform. By doing this, the business is complementing what it already has with an online version.

Improved Customer Support

90% of consumers expect companies to have an online portal service for customer service. On an online platform, businesses are given the opportunity to connect with their consumers efficiently and effectively. At the same time, the information consumers are looking for may already be available on the business' website the need for back and forth communication is cut back.

Expert Insight: When deciding to transition your business to an online platform, it is advisable to consult with experts who know the entire process's ins and outs. It can be tempting to do it on your own, however, some strategies should be used to make the transition to an online platform easier.

Originally published 06 July 2020

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.