The growing obliquity of smartphones, its burgeoning penetration, reduced internet tariff rates and cheaper options have made it a quintessential business tool for SMEs and MSMEs in smaller cities, towns and villages. The benefits are real and that is driving the increased adoption of smartphones, internet and apps by smaller businesses. Services that comes along with smartphones are further adding on to its benefits. There are evidences that testifies this fact. Many businesses have gone exclusively mobile-first and mobile only.
People purchase smartphones primarily for entertainment and utility as it’s cheaper than a TV, MP3 player and cameras combined. The rest of the functions that comes with it are collateral.
Tier 2 and 3 towns and villages are mostly self-sufficient and self-sustainable economies. They have some really large industries and the products that they manufacture are largely what defines the town’s economy. Rest of them are MSMEs which usually cater to the local demands. This aspect is changing and mobile and internet is driving this change. Ecommerce and mcommerce technology have revolutionized businesses. Any seller from anywhere, big or small, can sell to anyone anywhere in India now, using the power of the mobile internet and they are doing just that.
Smartphones help small business to get better exposure for their products and services. Customers on the other hand, get to know which product are in demand, design and color trends prevalent at a particular time, what sells and what doesn’t sell etc. Mobile and the internet also empowers small businesses enabling them to reach out to customers outside their local geographies.
Moreover, mobile marketing is cheaper compared to other traditional forms of marketing, thanks to tools such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. It helps small businesses in reaching out to new audience and at lower costs. WhatsApp has also emerged to be one of the most potent tool for small businesseshelping them to register high growth trajectory. In-fact smartphones have today become the lifeline for small business owners.
With the help of mobile phones, a small retailer can get real time updates on news, stocks, finances and even pop culture. The social apps available on smartphones also open up a wide variety of marketing options. Smartphones are enabling small businesses to do business in hitherto unheard of ways. Here is how:
Smart phones are helping businesses in acquiring customers: Small businesses are increasingly using smart phones to keep a tab on existing customers and acquire potential customers. As almosteverybody today uses a smartphone, businesses can easily use digital marketing channels to attract the attention of their target customers. The fact that many ecommerce players are taking help of apps, showcases its potential. Apps are today becoming digital storefronts for most businesses.
Supply chain management becomes cost-effective: Small businesses now can better manage logistics without having to invest in costly software or infrastructure. Smartphones, thanks to GPS are able to connect and bring the customer to the storefront hence facilitating hyper local solutions. Besides, there are many smart phone apps that assist in keeping track of the inventory, billing and accounting work. Also, keeping a track on employees or communicating with them in real time is easier via smart alerts and push notifications.
Processing of payments have gone easy: Now it’s easier to transact with customers via credit, debit cards and mobile wallets. Bulky POS machines have also made way for the swanky ones. There are technology companies that provide complete software package for payment, accounting, customer management & retention and finance related issues in a very cost effective way, to small retailers.
The role of Messaging apps
WhatsApp, the simple and free instant messaging and audio and video sharing app has emerged to become another powerful tool for small businesses, empowering them beyond limits. Through WhatsApp, it’s easier to hold one to one conversations, chat with a group, broadcast a message to multiple people simultaneously at one click. Today, the humble Whatsapp has become an integral part of business processes as a formal channel for communication.
There are evidences that corroborates this fact. WhatsApp have reduced the business cycle from almost 10 to 15 days to a just a few hours. Acquiring new customers and orders via sharing of samples of new products can be easily done by sending texts, images and videos on WhatsApp groups or by using the broadcast feature available on the app. Besides, the order cycle time has reduced and also wastage, since people are now able to update clients conveniently by sharing work in progress reports. Further, if there are any changes to be made in the order, they can be made during the processing, instead of orders getting rejected at the time of delivery. Moreover, WhatsApp has quickened the payment and transaction processes as now it’s easier to share Bank account details, images and scans of paymentinvoices, receive work orders or proof of payment, etc.
Companies are increasingly using for these purposes:
Customer support made easy: Nowadays, many small business have dedicated Whatsapp number for communicating with customers in real time. Customers can text a query and immediately get an answer or chat. Besides, it is easier to share pictures, videos and audio messages for free via WhatsApp.
Promotions made easy: Businesses are using WhatsApp to spread the word to more users and lure them into buying their product or service. Many companies are even achieving high sales numbers through this instant messaging service. All the customer has to do is to mention the product name, their name and address and send a WhatsApp message to get their delivery.
Many creative entrepreneurs have infact built businesses using WhatsApp as a platform
JamnalalKumhar, a terracota artist from VilllageMelola, Rajasthan. Kumhar sends images of the work to his clients while it’s still wet, the feedback / changes are discussed instantly and he is able to make the changes before the terracotta piece goes for baking. Since he started using WhatsApp he says his wastage has reduced to 80%.