In this day and age, technology has permeated all parts of our private and professional lives. We cannot live without technology. Likewise, we cannot do business without technology. Email, WhatsApp, social media, Internet of Things, automation and all manner of digital systems are part and parcel of business.
During the Women Entrepreneurs Convention, held on 29 and 30 August 2019, during the National Entrepreneurship Week 2019 in MAEPS, Serdang, many successful women entrepreneurs shared their success stories. Women entrepreneurs talked about how they gained success through the use of technology, or are doing business in technology-related fields.
In this article, we bring you some of their valuable insights and experiences.
Digital Footprint is a Necessity
“When you are a B2C business, you need a large digital footprint. Potential customers will do a Google search to find out about your company. They will also search for your company in Facebook to find out about your products and services before buying. They will look for customer reviews,” said Dr. Suraya Sulaiman, executive director of Alpha Catalyst Consulting. “For thought leadership, people will refer to LinkedIn.”
“At Avana, we found that customers like to conduct a search to check whether businesses are legitimate. So, it is important to be constantly up to date. Moreover, we should always aim to improve engagement,” said Soh Yien Yee, co-founder of Avana, a social commerce platform.
Employing Automation in Business
The panelists share their experiences in optimising their businesses using technology. Seamlessly connected systems and smart buildings are a reality you should consider now.
“We have utilised automation to help us run our storage business efficiently. Our storage space is fully digitalised. For example, when you key in the passcode, the door unlocks. If your locker is on the third floor, only the lights on the ground floor, in the elevator and on the third floor are switched on. Once you leave, all the lights are switched off automatically. The whole building is automated. We don’t have any staff in there,” said Noor Isma Ismail, managing director of The Storage People.
“When people order online or through social media, our system updates the stock list automatically. The system is also linked to a payment gateway for speedy payment. Automation saves time and money. You can do your business from home. The postman will come to your house to collect parcels,” said Yien Yee.
However, the suitability of automation depends on the nature of your business. At the very least, you can use technology to get to know your customers better. You can collect data to find out what your customers want and discover their buying behaviour. In analysing the data you collected, you can discover trends and patterns in customer behaviour, which you can use to serve them better.
Using Digital Platforms to Grow your Business
Nowadays, an online shop is frequently an extension of a traditional brick and mortar shop. Now is a good time to start your online business, if you have not done so. This is because the e-Commerce Consumers Survey 2018 found that 51% of Malaysians use e-commerce platforms to shop and sell online. In fact, the survey showed that Malaysia has the second highest number of e-commerce consumers in Southeast Asia, after Singapore, in terms of percentage of e-commerce users.
“When you start, you don’t need to invest a lot of money to develop your own e-commerce platform. Instead, use existing popular platforms such as Lazada and Shopee. Low entry cost is an attractive benefit for those starting their online business,” said Foong Yuh Wen, founder of SushiVid, a start-up self-serve platform that helps brands find, hire and work with social media influencers for marketing campaigns.
“You can use Google My Business to help you create and update your business profile, so you can stand out, and bring customers in. Everything is free. Templates are provided. It’s really user-friendly. You can create websites and WordPress blogs,” added Yuh Wen.
“You should only build an app later, when your business is stable and growing. We only created our app in our third year in business. To build an app, you will need to invest approximately RM50,000,” she said.
The panel discussions by successful women entrepreneurs on using technology in business were a real eye-opener about what technology can really do to boost and develop today’s businesses. These are the catalysts that can bring your business to the next level.