The benefits of going digital for your business

Leadership Going digital

Reading time: 3:26

Thinking about how digital ways of working can help your business may lead to unexpected rewards including; saving time and money, as well as making you more competitive.

The benefits of being digital

Time to watch: 3 minutes, 25 seconds

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Every day businesses see new digital products which can help them grow, but sometimes it can be hard to understand which product to invest in, or how to make the most of these opportunities.

Adopting digital technologies in your business could help you set up new ways of working, save you money, improve efficiency and boost your competitiveness. By looking at the tasks that take the most time or feel the most complicated you can start to see how digital software could help you improve your business processes.

Let’s look at some of the ways Customer Relationship Management software, also commonly known as CRM, eCommerce software and digital accounting software can help your business.

One of the quickest and best ways digital software can help your business and employees is by automating labour-intensive tasks and reducing the risk of human error. Using a CRM system to securely store and access your customer details in a central location or using digital accounting software to streamline your tax return processes, will help you to spend more time on the tasks that really drive your business forward.

Understanding your customers
Whatever your business, understanding your customer needs is essential for retaining them and attracting new ones. Using spreadsheets to spot trends is hard work and time-consuming
Swapping spreadsheets for a CRM system simplifies how you can track orders and purchases.

Boosting Sales
Before online trading, competing with bigger brands was next to impossible, now there are a host of digital marketplaces complemented by social media sites, to reach new customers and drive sales. E-commerce software can help you to showcase your brand and reach more customers quicker and easier than ever.

Business insights
Connecting your digital systems will give you valuable insights into opportunities for your business. E-commerce and digital accounting software can help you track sales and marketing performance, and improve communication between staff, suppliers and customers, through shared and simplified digital systems.

If you’re thinking about buying new digital software or getting more out of the software you already have, you’re not alone, and we’re here to help.

The Help to Grow: Digital Learning Platform can help you find the right software for your needs. Through expert advice, guidance and practical tools, you can explore the huge potential digital technology has for growing your business.

So, take the first step and start exploring the platform today.

Rooted in reducing the burden of time-consuming administrative tasks, software can securely and easily store business data, simplify your selling process, and help refine your customer experience.

The Enterprise Research Centre reports there is an expected productivity gain of between 7.5 – 18% for small and medium sized businesses, when they adopt new digital technologies such as Digital Accountancy, eCommerce and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

Adjusting to the new landscape businesses are now trading in, being accessible, staying connected and understanding your customers - even when you can’t talk to them face to face - are vital for survival.

What does ‘being digital’ mean?

Being digital means embracing new technologies that can help your business operate more efficiently. Digital is something SMEs of all sizes and locations can do and taking the first step, no matter how small, will help build confidence and knowledge.

7.5% - 18%

expected productivity gain when adopting digital technology.

It’s also worth remembering that digital adoption isn’t something you have to tackle all in one go.

Here are some examples of what you could achieve:

  • an online shopfront so customers can buy directly from you
  • swapping your Excel spreadsheets for accounting software that automatically generates invoices and tracks spending
  • storing your essential sales on a secure online system making them accessible to your team even when they’re working remotely
  • automating your promotions, chasing leads and exploring customer type from one central system. This helps to introduce new ways to reach your customers, understand their wants and create consistent service

If you have more than one digital aspiration in mind, start with setting objectives for new software and allow the rest to follow when the time’s right.

How does adopting digital technology help?

Save time on everyday tasks so you can spend time driving your business

Changing how you manage your essential data like financial information and customer contact details give a quick win for saving you time and reducing the opportunity for human error.

In our survey, we found that around 30% of SMEs are still using spreadsheets and paper-based records for their accounts. This presents a huge risk for incorrectly filed accounts and is incredibly time consuming when you need to collate receipts, invoices and manually check payment has been received.

Other ways automation can help save time is by using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to store, track and review customer habits.

Giving you better data to manage your business and your customers’ experience, it means details are entered once and stored centrally so team members can access what they need without having to chase anyone else in the team for information.

Understand your customers


of SMEs are still using spreadsheets and paper-based records for their accounts

Knowing the wants and needs of your customers is vital for retaining clients and attracting new ones. Using paper and spreadsheet based methods to spot trends, especially over a longer period of time, is incredibly time consuming and at risk of human error.

Swapping spreadsheets for CRM could provide the opportunity to track and cross-reference your trends automatically, by clicking checkboxes for what you want to see.

This can help you track:

  • regularity of spend – covering a date range or by customer type
  • sale value – understanding average spend could help plan future promotions
  • purchase type – great data for understanding stock levels and expanding your ranges

If you’re thinking about loyalty plans, seasonal promotions and where to drive product development, this is vital data.

Boost sales by reaching more people

When SME trading only happened offline, competing with bigger brands was next to impossible. It took big budgets for sustained exposure. Now, people are choosing to shop online and buy from independent traders more, the opportunities are vast.

The creation of online marketplaces and tools for marketing and promotion have levelled the playing field. Environments like social media platforms let you readily examine what your competitors are doing, and how well your shared target customers respond to different methods of advertising and products.

Combined with easier access to professional looking designs for your logos and a website, suddenly a smart, targeted brand presence that reaches more of your ideal customer is in grabbing distance.

Connect your systems for better insights

If you’re thinking about what comes next on your digital adoption journey, connecting your existing systems is an ideal place to start.

Linking your eCommerce and Accounting systems can provide you with deeper insights about your sales and overall business health.

This can include quicker access to information, and enable improved communication between staff, suppliers and networks. Ideal if your business operates across multiple sites and has remote working staff.

Top tip

When considering digital ways of working, it’s essential to consider the importance of cyber security for your business.

What’s holding you back?

Help to Grow: Digital is designed to help and support businesses like yours adopt digital technologies through free, expert advice, guidance and access to funding. 

Explore the Help to Grow: Digital website to find out more and see how you can receive up to £5,000 in funding to cover up to 50% towards costs for approved software.

Help to Grow: Digital guidance

6 steps to choosing software

Digital technologies can help your business grow. Our 6 steps will steer you through the buying process, so you can make the right choice.

How to recognise your business needs

Identifying your business needs is key to understanding how to help it grow. Take our Business Health Check to find out what shape your business is in.

Apply for 50% off business software

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