Selina Bieber is the senior regional director for the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, and South Africa at GoDaddy
The year 2020 has seen profound and far-reaching change throughout society and the global economy. It seems that every industry and sector has been upended in some way, creating a shift that has changed the trajectory of large, small and emerging businesses.
The pace and extent of digital transformation in 2020 has experienced some of the most furvert change as compared to any other year. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen technological transition occur at a breakneck pace, whether that is pushing forward digital transformation for businesses, connectivity in the shape of 5G, advances in artificial intelligence and augmented reality, and greater use of digital automation to help enable business to run smoothly in times of crisis.
However, there is often a tendency to focus on broad or advanced digital change risks, while overlooking the emotional component of the global pandemic-enforced transformation. For me, the real story is that of the smaller businesses and entrepreneurs in the region and the need to help them empower themselves.
Earlier this year, in a matter of a few weeks, entrepreneurs and micro-businesses were forced to pivot their traditional business approach to factor in the online world. Breaking the traditional face to face, physical communications and in-person sales model, to quickly understand how to connect and engage online – not as a consumer, but as a business.
There is no doubt that a lot of people knew the value of digital and were planning to make the plunge one day soon, but it became a necessity almost overnight - and that was the real challenge.
More consumers in the region have begun shopping online and in greater frequency. According to studies in the US, the global pandemic has accelerated the shift from physical stores to digital shopping by about five years. This seismic shift has forced businesses to rapidly pivot to digital channels such as e-commerce to drive traffic, sell online and remain competitive.
Deciding on the right products to invest in to help ensure businesses meet current market demand and more importantly, keep pace with the evolution of e-commerce technology and new ways of doing business, can often slow down the process of digital transformation. Yet it need not do so. A variety of online tools available today are designed to help set an online store, easily and more affordable.
The success stories of our customers during these unprecedented times are inspirational to others looking to start their own small business. Many startups that have transitioned to adding e-commerce online transactions, home delivery, and expanded digital marketing during this pandemic can help others with their own stories.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year and beyond, we think it’s vital that businesses reinforce their online brand identity and presence. In practical terms, this means honing your website, social channels, and other online properties. These elements are your virtual shopfront and it is essential to continually keep them updated and interesting to help your business grow. They need to be integrated, not just from a traffic flow point of view, but also in terms of their look and feel. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Online visibility is crucial as it can help the brand build a connection and trust with its customers. Differentiate yourself from the competition and convey a professional look and feel that will attract customers and help grow the business.
- In terms of communication, maintain good online engagement to help ensure website visitors are aware of the quality of your products and services, by connecting with them on a regular basis.
- Ultimately, you want to create a seamless and enjoyable customer experience online. In practical terms, this means ease of discovery, intuitive navigation for your website, simple online shopping (especially payment options and application of offers) and comprehensive post-purchase communication for those making online orders.
This year has shown us that a functional and integrated digital platform has become even more essential.