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Silver Lining in the Covid Cloud

September 24, 2020

At work and in our personal lives we all have items on our to-do lists that are important but not urgent. Well, digitising your business just moved from being important to mission critical. Pandemic lockdowns and global trade disruption are powerful accelerators of permanent change. For some, agile adaptation may be enough, such as opening a new direct-to-consumer social selling channel on Facebook. For others, the shift may require more radical business model re-engineering and technology transformation. Old-line garment manufacturers that historically relied on networks of satisfied customers may now need to assemble new supply chains, payment methods and design protocols.

Sun Tzu said “Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems” - wise words for today’s situation from someone who never had a mobile phone. So what are the most effective levers for transformation, and how do you get started?

Identify the key digital technologies

Data from the Enterprise Research Centre shows that if the UK’s 1.1 million SMEs with less than 9 employees doubled their uptake of key digital technologies, the U.K. economy would increase by £16.6 billion. Whatever the size of your business, find the digital transformations that will make the most differences to your business, either in terms of additional revenue, cost savings or margin improvement. Easy-to-access opportunities include Amazon, eBay, and Taobao that can drive incremental sales and provide a flow of big data that will give you direct insights into consumer tastes and trends that can improve your entire merchandising strategy.

Connect with your customer’s data

As Lever Style’s customer mix began to diversify from primarily designer labels such as Paul Smith, and premium contemporary brands such as Hugo Boss, Theory and All Saints to digitally-native brands such as Bonobos and Stitch Fix, the company began receiving feeds of online sell-through data. That enabled them to better serve their customers by shifting their mix of styles in almost real time in response to end-consumer buying trends. Artificial intelligence and machine learning applied to customer data empower better style and product predictions and enable low-cost final inventory purchases that entice customers at attractive price points.

Plug and play for fast deployment

APIs and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms are the web’s B2B gifts to speed of execution and enhanced functionality. The expense and maintenance of custom code – accompanied by cyber security risks – have been replaced by smooth integration, connected workflows and cap-ex free capability. For example, apparel management software can automate order processing inventory control and product planning.

Innovate

Digitally-signed smart contracts on a blockchain or distributed ledger can cut out intermediaries and reduce  paperwork. There has been a lot of talk about Industry 4.0. Every company needs to make the call about when it wants to take on the potential competitive advantage of innovation, and when they should hang back and be fast followers to be up-to-date without undue risk.

Fish where the fish are

Maybe 5 years ago, you would have visited your 7th Avenue contacts in New York and called on department store buyers in Chicago. Today, your prospective customers and business partners are as likely to be found online. Serai enables you to build and amplify your digital presence by showcasing your business capabilities. You can search, find and connect with credible new partners as part of our community. Leverage multiple data sources to validate information and inform key business interactions.

As the economy reopens and the emergency passes, make sure that your switch to digital has permanent benefits for your business.

Tracking emerging opportunities is just one of many B2B business topics on the Serai radar screen.