Last week, we have highlighted the importance of embracing digital transformation and how it contributes to the economy, here we elaborate on how restaurants and retailers can easily go digital without burning a hole in their budget or learning excessively complicated tools.
In its simplest form, technology can help small business owners maximize limited capital and resources. Going digital doesn’t always mean making drastic changes and in some cases, going digital can be as simple as turning to WhatsApp for order-taking.
For example, in April, Facebook invested in Reliance Group’s telecommunications arm Jio for 9.9% shares. The investment introduced a new O2O (Online-to-Offline) grocery marketplace venture that connects merchants to customers in India.
The partnership brought forth new opportunities for small local family-owned shops to market and sell their goods through the messaging app - WhatsApp. To make purchases, customers can simply text the Jio number, and they will be redirected with an expiring link to a browser-based mini-store to place their orders and pay through the store once they have collected their goods.
Similarly, as an effort to help merchants make sales remotely during this global pandemic crisis, Fave has introduced features such as deals delivery and takeaway where customers can purchase deals and personally reach out to merchants to arrange for delivery via WhatsApp, call, or via the merchant’s website.
The features have helped many merchants to continue making sales and staying afloat even during the Movement Control Order (Malaysia) and Circuit Breaker period (Singapore).
Adopting technology comes in many forms. While fully embracing digital transformation and building your own website and applications sounds tempting, let’s leave that plan for some other time. For now, let's be realistic and start with some simple ways that are easy for any business to adopt technology and with very little effort.
1. Start Accepting Contactless Payment in Store
Though there is a myriad of benefits of accepting cashless payments that can go beyond just reducing the risk of stolen cash and record-keeping, its most relevant benefit today is that through cashless payments, businesses will not have to deal with the risk of handling contaminated cash.
Cash changes hands millions of times during circulation and gets contaminated along the way. In the midst of the global pandemic crisis, experts have warned that the COVID-19 has the ability to latch onto cash just like how it can latch onto places such as doorknobs, and handrails. With that said, retailers and restaurants are highly urged to turn to contactless payment to reduce the risk of virus transmission.
Comparison of Different Cashless Payments
With the emergency of a variety of new e-wallets, the cashless payment scene is becoming more competitive than ever. Back then, debit and credit cards had always been the most popular cashless payment, however, merchants struggled with their expensive card fees and that’s when e-wallet came in as a more reliable alternative.
With each offering different types of benefits and features, businesses might get lost in information trying to choose one that fits their business the best. So here are some of the most popular cashless payments in Malaysia, and Singapore, and their comparison.
How to Accept Multiple Cashless Payments using one platform
With too many e-wallets and cashless payments accepted at one store there will be problems with multiple QR standees that overwhelm the counter, and clutter of receipts from different platforms that burden record-keeping. One way to solve this problem is to reconcile various payments into one platform. This does not only help expedite bookkeeping processes but also help reduce charges from different platforms.
A payment aggregator like Fave gives merchants the ability to accept all types of cashless payments and e-wallets using one platform. Unlike an e-wallet, users don’t have to worry about running out of balances with FavePay, users are only required to link their Fave account to their preferred payment method once to make payments and purchases. This cuts downtime for customers top-up during payment as deductions are made directly to their linked accounts.
Addressing this problem, Payments Network Malaysia (PayNet) Group CEO Peter Schiesser stated that “At the moment, merchants have to bear incurring substantial acquisition costs from e-Wallet providers since they are signing up the same set of merchants for their respective networks.”
With that, PayNet, the national payments network and central infrastructure provider, launched DuitNow. Fave has partnered with PayNet to offer merchants with DuitNow QR. Through this, customers of all participating Banks and e-Wallets would be able to make DuitNow QR payments to the merchant using their respective mobile apps.
Similarly, recognizing the same problem in Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), launched SGQR in September 2018 to combine multiple e-payment solutions into one label.
2. Enhance Social Media Presence
In this era of technology and knowledge, consumers are more reliant on the internet, their primary source of information will be search engines and social media such as Facebook, Instagram and more. With that said, consumers are more likely to trust and interact with a brand that has a strong online presence over a business that doesn’t.
Thus why it is important for businesses to establish their online presence through means such as social media.
Link Social Media to Google My Business
Setting up different social media channels can definitely help in establishing an online presence, but one underrated way to better enhance online presence is through Google My Business.
What is Google Business Listing?
It is a listing on Google that appears when users search for your business name or service. It allows users to quickly find all of your contact info, location, and even social media in one place for FREE.
Research shows that 60% of consumers have searched for business at least six times a year. This proves that Google My Business could help businesses become a more accurately represented, visible, and visited brand.
How to claim or insert details on Google Business Listing?
- Go to Google My Business
- Select Manage Now, then enter Business Name and Address in the Search Box.
- Select or Add a Business
- Verify the Business
- Confirm the Business. Set up a Google+ Page.
Google My Business page is the most important step in Local Search Optimization, and for businesses looking to enhance their social media presence, it is highly advisable that they link it on Google My Business page.
When supporters search for an organization on Google, businesses should focus on giving them to see the best results on page one. This includes making sure the info, website profile, and social media profiles are up-to-date.
Take Advantage of Trends on Different Social Media Platforms
Another thing to note when it comes to social media is the trend that comes and goes. Crafting content for social media especially needs to address current trends. This is to ensure that businesses are able to compete and get noticed in the overly-saturated social media space.
So here are some trends based on different social media.
Image source: Digital Information World
Facebook: Group-centric layout
Facebook has already started rolling out a version that will put Facebook Groups at the center of the platform. Other than the design change with cleaner interface and larger font, user can select to view only feed of update from groups that they're part of.
It seems this new design is not available to all users just yet. However, users can check the new facebook design from "Settings" and select "See New Facebook".
Image source: Social Baker
Instagram - Interactive Instagram Stories
Instagram launched Stories in 2016, as an add-on to keep followers updated with minor daily activities for businesses, but it has since evolved into a more interactive platform with 500 million daily Story watches in 2019 alone.
Now, there are a variety of interactive features on Instagram Stories like question stickers, countdown timers, and even external links. Businesses can use this to introduce new products, campaigns, reminders, or even gauge engagements with users as all stories disappear after 24-hours.
Using Free Tools to Create Visuals and Video Contents
As visuals play a vital role in determining a user's interaction with a post, businesses that are still struggling with creating their own visuals may explore other free tools instead. Those tools include
- Canva - A free and simple graphic design platform for any users
- Vectr - A free editor for creating 2D vector graphics
- Adobe Lightroom - A free photo organizing and editing software available for desktop and mobile.
- Movavi - A free built-in video editing tool for Windows.
Connect with Similar Pages on Social Media
When businesses connect and interact with another page, especially those relevant to them, they will gain more visibility on the page and gain insights and stay up to date with the industry.
With that said, businesses can start connecting through liking relevant pages that offer useful content. Examples of pages that help restaurants and retailers by providing the latest industry updates and more business educational materials include Growth Malaysia and FaveBiz. Aside from this, businesses can also look into joining relevant Facebook groups to increase visibility and connect with like-minded folks.
With more than 4 billion people around the world using social media every month, it's no longer just a passing trend. Social media is now a crucial component of any business marketing strategy. Now take the first step, create a profile, and start engaging with your customers.
3. Turn to Online Marketing and Customer Loyalty Platforms
While coming up with a marketing strategy or even a customer loyalty plan may seem important, businesses, especially small to medium ones, don't necessarily have to do it themselves.
Ride on Existing Platforms with Large Users Database
With the arrival of platforms such as Lazada, Shopee Grab, Foodpanda, and Fave, businesses, especially small to medium ones can now enjoy the benefits offered by these platforms.
For retailers alike, platforms such as Shopee, Lazada, and Fave may serve as a more effective means to reach out to more audiences due to their huge customer database.
Based on a report by Sitegiant, As of January 2020, Lazada has an average monthly estimated traffic of 12.44M with an average visit duration of 7 minutes 31-seconds while has an average monthly estimated traffic of 27.82M with average visit duration of 10 minutes 33 second.
On the other hand, restaurant and other food and beverage businesses may turn to online and food delivery platforms such as Foodpanda, Grab food, Deliveroo, and Dahmakan for better marketing exposure and bigger audience reach.
On another note, it goes without saying that customer retention is just as important as customer acquisition. In terms of long-term growth, customer loyalty programs have been proven to increase customer retention.
Use Existing Customer Loyalty Platform
Online marketing and creating a customer loyalty program may be a challenging task for small to medium businesses. However, by taking advantage of the benefits and features of other platforms, this task could be better managed and executed.
This way small and medium businesses can prevent from overspending on online marketing experiments, avoid unnecessary resource allocation, and focus more on providing their services and products instead.
4. Utilize Data to Understand Your Business and Your Customers
In order to measure the effectiveness of all the above and its contribution to businesses, data collecting and analyzing is important. This way, businesses can keep track of the investments that they have made and better manage resource allocations.
Social Media Insights
However, for small restaurants and retailers, this might not be impossible. Resources are limited and access to data is very restricted. But it doesn’t have to be this way, instead of collecting data on their own, small businesses can turn to platforms such as Facebook and Instagram instead to track and optimize marketing strategy based on demographics, date, time of highest traffic and purchases. How?
Business pages can easily track demographics through Facebook and Instagram insights this way:
- Click Insights at the top of the Page.
- Click People on the left.
- Click the Fans section to see the percentage of people who like the Page by age, gender, country, city, and language.
- Tap the menu icon at the top right of the page
- Tap insights
- Select specific posts, stories or promotions you'd like to view insights on. You can also learn more about your audience.
Similarly, Fave also provides its merchants with free access to data through Favebiz Insights. The insight analyzes the performance of your business of all outlets, compares it across any period of time as well as deeper insight into customer base which includes customer demographics, spending habits, purchase trends and more to identify opportunities to increase sales or optimize offerings with Fave.
With that said, these are only a few options of low and no-cost resources that small business owners can utilize to gain access to business data. While data collection continues to grow, so do the number of tools making access easier and more affordable for small businesses.
At any level of digital transformation, businesses should always have a goal in mind, and use these tips to achieve that goal.
Seek a good digital partner that can significantly help in providing in-budget solutions that are more compatible with a business’s infrastructure to turn those potential gains into reality.
Digital transformation doesn’t necessarily have to cost a fortune. For small businesses, a digital transformation includes all the little steps that add up to massive cost savings, happier customers, and improved prospects.