Hello everyone and thanks for joining us for our second Digitize NS Webinar. We opened with a short introduction last week, but as we have received more newcomers this week we wanted to revisit the intro and do a more in-depth discussion. For those who do not know, the purpose of this series of webinars is to help bring digitization to as many businesses as possible here at home in NS. We will be covering a wide variety of topics over the coming weeks as we follow the story of Joe and his store, Joe’s Sweaters who takes his downtown Dartmouth storefront online. Before we get into that, let me introduce myself to those who may not know me.
My name is Jason Vickers and I’m the Director of Strategy and Training here at SimplyCast — that means I work primarily with our customers to help them get the most out of our software and their digital strategies.
Today’s Webinar will cover What Digitization is exactly before we review a fictional example of Digitization at work in Joe’s Sweater’s as he prepares to take the first steps towards digitization. The goal with this example and today’s webinar is to give you not just a clear understanding of what goes on when a process is digitized, but hopefully, breakdown and preconceived notions that may exist about how hard, or complicated adopting a new technology may be. We’re breaking everything down so that you leave this webinar with not just some new ideas, but a starting point of how you can start digitizing your business.
So just a few housekeeping items before I begin – please leave any questions you may have during the presentation in the Chat Window at the top of the Join Me screen – I’ll address them as we go through the presentation. I’ve also muted everyone as they’ve joined – if you’ve got a question you can leave them in the chat, or if you’d like to begin a longer discussion about an idea you heard, or a software you’re interested in please don’t hesitate to email me directly at Jay at simplycast.com – I’ll provide this in chat at the end for those that may not have it already.
Great – so let’s get started.
What is Digitization?
Digitization refers to the process of going digital! Many businesses both locally and abroad have yet to begin, or fully embrace digitization within their firm. Some look at large brands that have sophisticated websites, Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, online ads and more. It can be easy to look at these businesses and think ‘I could never get there’, but that simply isn’t so. In fact, there are businesses worldwide whose entire existence is dedicated to making sure digitizing your business is simply and easy.
But what is digitization – aside from a mouthful. It is the process if taking physical elements of your business and putting them online. This can be done in many ways such as:
- Creating a digital storefront to sell items
- Starting a social media account
- Launching a company web page, and more.
Today, however, we are going to focus on a fictional man named Joe and his business – Joe’s Sweaters. This example will focus on an e-commerce store, but will not be the only used as we move forward.
Joe’s shop is in downtown Dartmouth, next to the farmer’s market. He creates warm wool sweaters from local sheep farmers and makes a point of making sure all of his supplies are locally sourced. By operating an offline storefront, Joe is able to offer his top-quality wares to the surrounding area, but that’s about all. He has tried boosting interest by taking part in the local Farmer’s Market in Dartmouth and Halifax. Joe has tried producing catalogs and mailing them out, but after weighing the printing and delivery costs to the returns with these campaigns Joe can’t justify the Return on Investment he’s receiving. He has owned this business for over 20 years but has recently seen a decline in his sales and is wondering if it might be time to go ‘on the web’.
Unfortunately, Joe doesn’t have much experience on the internet and the only digital device in his store is his personal laptop and daughter’s smartphone.
Challenges that he currently faces are:
- Limited to Surrounding Area – the majority of his customer base is local and has kept him afloat. By pushing some product at the Farmer’s Market, he has grown it enough to keep up with the decline but is worried he may be reaching saturation.
- Catalogs Poor ROI – He has produced catalogs and have them mailed out but has been met with a negative return on investment.
- Lack of Digital Knowledge – Joe has been a stickler for what he knows and hasn’t had time to really dive deep into the digital world.
- Low Budget – Joe does not have a large amount of money to work with and can’t afford to contract his work out to firms.
Staring at these challenges can almost feel like looking at a mountain from the base, but Joe is an entrepreneur and is used to a challenge and takes the first step – creating a strategy.
Step One: Strategy
The first objective Joe is going to take is to come up with a strategy of what he wants to accomplish. After a day or two of thinking decides that he wants to go slow and only get a website, start getting his client’s emails and start a Facebook page. He has put together an amount of $350 of what he is willing to spend and checked out an article or two online. One of the best pieces of advice he has stumbled upon so far is that digitization is not just about making life easier for him, but for his staff and customers as well.
His first task is building a website:
A very common digitization process involves taking advantage of e-commerce technologies and store fronts. There are countless websites that offer an easy to use and operate online storefronts, many with customer service agents who are trained to help the brave few who know there is more they can do but don’t have the know and they’re some of their favorite customers.
Some key items to look for when selecting a site for your business is:
- Style – while colors and fonts can often be changed on a style or theme, try to find one that speaks to your business and brand.
- Pricing – check pricing on packages many websites offer. Depending on the site you choose, additions such as 24/7 customer support, mailing labels, and page options can come at different price points. Aim to find a site that supports your needs while still meeting your budget.
- Content – consider what you will be putting onto your website. If it is an e-commerce store, your first thought will be your inventory but additional sections can help flesh the site out more. As you may recall from the first week’s emails, a blog can make a great addition as it helps attract new visitors and helps the SEO for your site (But we will touch and that later).
Joe picks a few different digital storefront’s that he thinks suits his needs from reading online reviews he’s found on google, then fills out the helpful demo form on each companies website to book some one-on-one demos with each respective product expert. The form Joe completed on the websites helped the product expert perfectly tailor Joe’s presentation to show exactly how they’ve been successful in helping businesses both in the same industry and in size in launching an online storefront.
After some great demos, Joe’s mailed some information packages which include supplemental statistics and reporting to further help build piece of mind that other people just like him have seen success following the same path. The best parts? Joe hasn’t paid a cent, has companies competing for his business, and now better understands the power of e-commerce solutions. He’s ready to take the next step and choose the best solution at the best price point for his needs.
So now that Joe’s picked out the best solution for his business and is convinced in what it can do and how it can help, what’s next? How does Joe get started? Software companies understand that the technologies you’re buying are in many times something you’ve never seen or used before. Technology is not just for the tech savvy anymore – everyday technology gets more and more user-friendly and easier to understand.
Depending on the package or your know-how, many of these companies will tailor custom fit onboarding packages for each organization to assist with the training and implementation period. An Onboarding expert will meet with you and your team online or in person to come up with the most effective strategy to train Joe and his staff. The plan the specialist will put together will consider his daughter’s tech-spertise while adapting for the extra time it may take Joe to become familiar. Joe is dealing with award winning customer success teams that are committed to ensuring Joe’s successful – as much time will be taken to ensure this is the case.
The Big Picture
Joe has reviewed the packages he received and has decided to go with a website-building platform that provides all of needs. They have even set him up for some training classes so he can get the hang of the software faster.
The more Joe is learning, the more he begins to see the big picture and what he wants his site to look like:
- He wants to add an About Me section to talk about his skills and the history of the store.
- Joe isn’t much a writer, but he began to jot down small notes about things that he thinks his customers might want to know about – like where the wool comes from and how the sweaters are made.
- A storefront won’t do much without product – Joe has started to look at what his best selling products are and taking pictures of them to put online.
- He has secured an annual pricing plan of $20 dollars a month – this comes with an annual fee of $240, give him 24/7 support, his own domain name and more.
Joe will be handed off from his Onboarding specialist to his permanent account manager who will schedule regular check-ups to ensure things are still running smoothly and to review Joe’s business practices to see if there are any other ways they can help.
What Joe Has Done
Joe’s journey into digitization is just beginning – in the coming weeks, Joe will learn about digital storefront security, getting his own domain name, how to write to increase SEO and more.
While today’s example was absolutely very specific to an e-Commerce solution, I really do want to emphasize that the process that our fictional shopkeeper Joe experienced is nearly identical regardless of the online technology being adopted.
The content we will be coming over the next few weeks will be relatable to all businesses, such as newsletter and landing page creation, to customer nurture or drip campaigns. Software companies are getting better and better at helping the Joe and his daughters of the world succeed. As a software provider, we’re not only committed to your success with our various softwares, but we’re incentivized – we want to create lasting, positive relationships with our customer’s, just like you. Just as Joe ensures he has a sweater to fit absolutely any customer that might enter his store, software companies are working to ensure we have a solution for any customer that might enter our e-store.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be expanding on several of the steps in the purchase process Joe experienced above, starting with Research. Next week we’ll focus on some non-specific examples for how a company of any size might effectively begin researching a tool that to solve a problem or enhance and existing process.
Thank you very much for taking the time to listen, I’ll be now answering questions from the chat.