Businesses to recover fast by adapting to changes

Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - December 1, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — While most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have hit a dry spell in their cash flow, business can still be “more than usual” under the new normal if they quickly adapt to the changing times.

Logistics and forwarding firm UPS Philippines said in a recent release that it found out from workshops and webinars it held for small businesses over the past few months that “30-40 percent of SMEs have identified reduced cash flow and difficulty in resuming operations because of quarantine and social distancing measures as the biggest challenges.”

However, these businesses could get back to their feet again, if they were to change their way of doing business, and be fully familiarize the digital way of conducting business.

“If business opportunities have become scarce, pivot the business model,” the firm suggested.

In the face of physical store closures, e-commerce has emerged as the way forward for businesses, as new digital technologies change the playing field and the speed with which companies can and must react.

UPS urged SMEs to consider a business model that works best for them, whether a purely online model or maintaining a hybrid omni-channel model. Whichever form this takes, supply chains and distribution channels will need to be reconfigured to support that shift.

Over the last few months, the SMEs that were able to continue operating with fewer disruptions have been those with a “digital-first” approach, establishing their sales channels through different platforms, including their own websites, Facebook, Instagram, and market sellers like Lazada or Shopee.

Among the businesses UPS Philippines surveyed, 75 percent of SMEs were either in the process of transforming their business to go digital or intended to go digital but didn’t know yet where to start.

This should serve as a strong signal to business owners who have not yet embraced digitalization to consider transforming their businesses to be more future proof.

SMEs also need to consider enhancing the ease of cashless payment options for customers, either through existing platforms such as PayPal or bank transfers over cash-on-delivery options.

All these form part of business transformation, which means looking ahead for growth, identifying opportunities presented by new technologies, and spotting new ways of doing things, whether digital payments or ways to bring products to market.

SMEs are also encouraged to set up proper data intelligence in, a way of business more than the usual.

Collect data, get insights, learn, improve Data insights can help SMEs make decisions that would enable their businesses to grow. Data can provide answers to questions such as, “Am I reaching enough potential buyers through my current channels?” or “Is my website or social media content attractive enough for customers to click through and engage more?” or “Am I making it easy for my customers to purchase my products?”

One simple example is using web-based analytics to identify where visitors of a website are located, indicating potential demand for Philippine-made products.

Faced with serious challenges such as supply chain disruption and potential physical store closures, many SMEs have been forced to suspend operations or dip into personal savings to advance salaries amid limited liquidity and delayed payments due to the dramatic slowdown in economic activity.

Pivoting way of doing business does not only provide hope for recovery, but to anticipate for thriving business more than the usual.

The logistics and forwarding firm shares some key takeaways and insights from these workshops on how small businesses can navigate these challenges and bounce back from this unprecedented crisis.

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