Running a successful business is becoming more challenging. This is mostly because we are living in a more volatile world. Almost regardless of where you are located, you will have been affected by the CoVid pandemic.
As well as being highly likely to have been impacted by natural disasters. Especially flooding. This map shows that more than 50% of the world is already experiencing more flood events.
Now that the world and trade are more intricately connected, we all experience the fallout from pandemics, natural disasters, and wars. For example, the 2011 earthquake in Japan resulted in a worldwide shortage of silicon chips. Now, it is disruptions, due to CoVid, that have led to a new chip shortage.
In fact, many companies are having problems sourcing a long list of materials. Something that is driving prices higher and creating difficult trading conditions.
But these difficult times do not mean that business owners are giving up. Far from it. The majority are finding new ways to work so that they can continue to be profitable.
Many are turning to technology to do that. Often, they are taking tools and software that they already own and adapting how they use them so that new challenges can be overcome. Here are just a few examples:
During the CoVid pandemic, physical businesses had to put in place certain restrictions and find gentle, yet effective, ways to reinforce them. They needed to ensure that everyone wore masks, cleansed their hands, followed social distancing advice, and, where necessary, were carrying proof of vaccination. In many cases, keeping safe with digital signage was the solution. The screens could be set up anywhere. Plus, as restrictions changed, it was easy to change the format of the message(s).
Digital screens proved to be a highly effective way to quickly communicate with lots of customers. So much so that many physical businesses have chosen to continue to use them, long after the restrictions were lifted. It is just that now they are more likely to provide details of promotions and the latest products than safety messages.
During the pandemic, restrictions meant that the majority of physical retailers, gyms, restaurants, salons, and clinics had to close. Some for months at a time. This prompted those that already had websites to add e-commerce stores to them. Often, using plugins that had been available for many years, they were able to do it overnight. Those that did not have one quickly got a site built and started doing the same.
Going online has opened up the chance to sell internationally. To help them to do this, firms are using software that automatically translates their website and product listings into the relevant languages. As well as plugins, and widgets that work out the cost of international postage.
During the CoVid pandemic, many stores offered curbside pickup, for the first time. Using apps like this one to facilitate doing so. These services proved so popular with consumers that many retailers are planning to continue offering curbside pickup.
Some have taken things a step further by setting up lockers from which customers can collect their orders or leave an item they wish to return. When shipments cannot be delivered directly to your home or workplace, they are kept in parcel lockers, which are secure place for your orders. If you have a chance to use the locker as a delivery method, you will receive a message about the delivered purchase. Parcel lockers are an excellent solution for those who work late and cannot pick up their items directly. QR codes or password technology makes this type of arrangement secure.
The fact that flooding is becoming such a big threat, businesses are increasingly installing physical flood barriers like these. Pumps that turn on automatically when sensors are tripped is another example of how firms are using technology to protect their stock and assets.
Firms that have experience of natural disasters usually put together a disaster plan. While larger companies use software like DICE which helps them to quickly assess the impact, make sound decisions, and take the necessary action to stay in business.
Buying materials and stock at the best possible price is a big part of maintaining a good profit margin. Firms are increasingly using software like this to track prices. This enables them to automatically see when the price of the materials or products they need starts to drop.
It also helps them to keep track of how much their competitors are charging for products. Enabling business owners to automatically adjust their prices, so that they continue to offer the best value.
These are just a few examples of how companies are using technology to help them to trade regardless of what is going on in the world. If you are a business owner who wants to learn more your trade associations are a good source of further information.