Digitization for Small and Medium Business - Business 4.0

The issue of  "digitization for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)"  is still in the development phase. According to the KfW Research Report 2016, only one in five SME’s are among the digital pioneers, while a third are still in the basic stage of digitization, e.g. even basic applications, such as their own Internet presence, are below average. As a result of the report, small companies with fewer than ten employees are particularly affected and use less than € 10 TSD per year for digitization. The report shows that SME’s with fewer than 50 employees are  particularly common among the laggards of digitization (Source: KfW "Digitalisierung im Mittelstand" - Aug. 2016).).

At the same time, the needs of customers have changed significantly in recent years. Surveys  show a "round-the-clock accessibility" and "shopping 24/7" are becoming increasingly important. Rapid delivery times and thus the availability of the desired services or products belong to the good service. Pre-research on the Internet for services and products is now almost a common thing to do for many.

Admittedly, not every product or service is suitable for being provided online. Nevertheless, companies should discuss the topic intensively and consider how it is possible to offer selected products or services online

Many retailers, for example, do not yet offer their customers their products or services online. The reasons for this are according our experience  among others shortage in personnel, a lack of technical skills (the establishment of an on-line shop, camera equipment), the high additional time required (displaying the goods, processing orders, payment transactions, etc.), lacking knowledge about the legal requirements, etc. To remain competitive on the market in the future, it is a must to face the "Business 4.0" trend and to find solutions to meet changing customer requirements. The stationary trade should therefore take advantage of the opportunities offered by online trading as a further alternative for marketing and customer acquisition. An online shop that reflects the product range, at least partially, allows the customer to decide for himself whether they prefer to go to the store or have the goods delivered at home. Surveys often show high additional charges for online customers, which is why they often choose the option to pick up the ordered goods locally. Retailers can make use of this customer requirement and thus offer customers a special service. In this way  the customer is assured that his goods are in stock and can - if not so - replace them without any problems directly on the spot. Another advantage is that the dealer can provide the customers a special shopping experience. The goods can be picked up, for example, by an appointment, even outside normal opening hours, the customer can, if desired, get personal advice, etc., regardless of the online transaction. It is important, however, that small and medium-sized enterprises do not want to close the trend "Business 4.0" and offer customers an online offer through clever concepts.


Autor: Lisa Henke, dbt das-berater-team, 27.02.2017

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