Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Arturo Garcia Hernandez / Transformation Manager Fundación Wadhwani
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought multiple changes in different areas. SMEs in Mexico are no exception, according to INEGI, 60% of small and medium-sized companies in the country were forced to enter the waters of electronic commerce.
Compared to the United States of America, where 50% of sales are concentrated in two retailers ( Amazon and Walmart ), e-commerce in Mexico is still a territory that is maturing. During the last few months we have seen an explosion of “ delivery ” applications, which has modified users' purchasing habits in a certain way. Going from a focus on price to practicality, paying up to more than a 30% surcharge for not having to leave home.
The big question that companies in Mexico face is: What is the way forward to be able to digitize my business? The answer has many implications, which are often not considered, leading companies to lose money and developing a feeling of frustration in entrepreneurs.
Next, I share the main situations that we have seen with SMEs benefiting from the Wadhwani Advantage program and how to solve them.
Development of a profitable digital business model
One of the main barriers SMEs face in Mexico is not knowing where to start. It is very common for entrepreneurs to bet on what they consider familiar ground. Opening multiple social media accounts and an unoptimized website, which they tend to abandon after a few months when they see no results.
The recommendation that I always give is to make a good approach to the business model, where they do not sacrifice the margin, quality or consumer experience. To resolve this situation, it is very important to know in detail who your client is and give them options that best suit their habits.
Taking that detail into account, you can determine the best way to communicate with your customer according to their habits and determine what type of electronic commerce they are interested in ( BOPUS, home delivery , physical purchase). There are very ingenious solutions that we have seen with the companies benefiting from the program, from alliances with taxi sites with a fixed freight fee or the adoption of a CRM to automate communication with prospects, closing sales with a better ratio.
Adoption of technologies that facilitate the operation of the business
Once the business model is resolved, selecting the right tool is essential to ensure flawless execution. This point can be as broad as your business strategy requires. I share some considerations so that you can apply it to your business:
- Online store: There are several options to develop an online store, which is not an option for all businesses. It is important to understand if your client will intend to buy directly from your site and if so, ensure that there is no risk of information leakage. The services that I recommend to start your online store are Shopify and WordPress , which you can easily program on your own, have options for optimization and to improve your position in search engines, compatibility with Google Analytics and have very good free tutorials.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM ) Software: A very common situation is not documenting interactions with your customers. Losing yourself in the operation can often lead you to not follow up on business opportunities with your customers and prospects. This was something that Jeff Bezos , founder of Amazon , understood very well. Fortunately, there are tools on the market for every budget and even free trial services. The important thing is that you evaluate the number of clients you have and try to offer the most personalized service.
- Market place: The option of setting up your store to an established platform is always attractive, especially when you are starting your business. What they don't tell you is that the data generated by all your interactions belongs to the platform and does not allow you to reach a level of personalization of your offer. This is a point to consider, depending on the nature of your business and the habits of your customers. The benefits are that the logistics issues are resolved by the service provider and many times it also allows the optimization of your store (obviously considering an investment in their platform).
- Mass mail services (Email Delivery) : Although for new generations this may sound obsolete, according to COMSCORE, email campaigns are still quite effective, especially for B2B sales. Good practices for this type of service consider personalization, immediacy and above all eye-catching headlines to motivate the opening of the email.
- Automated responses ( bots ): If you already have experience in digital platforms, you will have noticed that even though the information is visible, the client will always ask and if they do not answer you will generate a nuisance. A very simple solution is to program the automated responses considering precisely the most frequently asked questions you receive. This not only allows you to generate a better experience for the prospect but also usually improves your evaluation on the platforms.
Structure your presence in digital media
There are a large number of options to have a presence in various digital media, I will tell you which ones I consider essential to take into account in your business strategy:
- Website: Whatever hosting service (CMS) you choose, it is highly relevant that you can optimize it to be relevant to search engines. Another point to consider is that it has the security certificates (SSL) and the privacy notice. Finally, there are good practices such as image optimization, making a comparison of your competition's keywords and identifying how your client does the search when their need is triggered.
- Blogs / Vlogs: Curiously, in Spanish-speaking countries the consumption of audiovisual content is high, touching 3.5 hours a day according to some sources. This has positioned YouTube as the second most used search engine and a key element to consider in your strategy. Using these platforms allows you to affirm your dominance within the category, which will make you have better positioning in search engines, mainly Google.
- Social Networks: Although social networks have evolved and now you need to pay to reach audiences, they are still relevant to be able to establish communication. It all depends on the characteristics of your business and the habits of your consumers. A bad habit is to open accounts in business networks and not feed them, this is a bad cover letter because you indicate to your potential client that you are not serious about updating your information. Structuring a good content strategy and being consistent are the keys to gaining relevance in this medium.
- Digital sales platforms: In Latin America there is not such a marked behavior as in the United States and electronic sales are distributed among multiple platforms. Mercado Libre and Amazon represent the leaders and each has its own peculiarities. It is important to consider that if your strategy involves using these platforms, it is not enough just to open them. Constant optimization, interaction with your prospects and building a good reputation are keys to being able to excel in them.
Digitally transforming your business is feasible
As I mentioned in this article, there are many factors to consider when developing your digital marketing strategy. However, a good understanding of your client and proposing a good business model will make it much easier for you to be profitable, saving many moments of frustration and loss of capital.