It’s no secret that digitalisation has revolutionised the way we do business. From automating tedious administrative tasks to improving customer experience, it’s a powerful tool that can help to drive success on both a small and large scale.

Now more than ever, retailers are streamlining their operations with affordable technology that allows them to free up resources, save on costs, and improve their service overall. This is especially beneficial for SMEs. Most importantly, for smaller businesses the process of digitalising doesn’t have to break the bank if you follow the right approach. 

Make a clear, realistic plan

Digitalisation is a major change for most organisations, so it’s crucial that you have a clear plan of attack to ensure the process is as efficient and effective as possible. The first step is to consider your current operations and determine the specific pain points that you want to address. For example, you may decide that automating your sales processes is essential as it will eliminate the need to manually create sales orders and invoices, saving you time and money.

As you plan your digitalisation journey, it’s essential to consider what will be realistic for your business in both the short and long term. Implementing several big changes at once can be expensive and the rapid change can quickly become overwhelming and confusing for employees. Instead, start by prioritising the areas where technology will have the most significant impact and continue to innovate from there.

Prepare for organisational changes

One of the biggest advantages of digitalisation is its ability to improve and streamline tasks that were once performed solely by employees. While this can save you and your team valuable time and money, it also means that job roles within your business are bound to change.

Planning for change management as part of your digitalisation process will help you to better manage the transition and keep your employees engaged and motivated as their roles evolve. For example, if implementing new sales technology will save your team multiple hours per week, you may want employees to start using this time to explore new business opportunities or nurture customer relationships. By identifying these organisational changes and providing a clear plan, stakeholders will be more likely to see how digitalisation will improve their roles and the wider business.

Invest in the right technology

Taking the time to research and consider the best technology options for your company is essential, as the best solution will vary depending on your budget, size, and goals. As a small business, it’s important to invest in technology that can scale with you as you grow. Keeping your goals in mind as you decide which option is best for your long-term needs is essential, as changing systems down the track will only be a waste of time, money, and resources.

It’s also important to avoid investing in isolated solutions that don’t integrate well with your existing or planned future technology. Isolated systems can quickly become outdated and can be difficult to implement seamlessly into your day-to-day processes. Making the digitalisation process as seamless as possible for your employees and stakeholders is crucial to ensuring it’s a worthwhile investment.

Prioritise cybersecurity 

Investing in a good cybersecurity system should go hand-in-hand with your digitalisation plan. This is essential as digitising your operations often means that important information and sensitive data will be stored on cloud-based systems, which can increase exposure to cyber hacks.

A great cybersecurity system should include reliable software as well as employee education and training on how to keep data safe from cyber-attacks. Every employee plays a role in safeguarding your business from cyber threats, so it’s essential that you cover all bases to protect your business as much as possible. 

Craig Matthews is chief merchandise officer at Office Brands.