The Benefits of Going Digital for Small Businesses

Worksite changes through digital functions to ensure employee safety

We all recognize that the workplace isn’t the same as it used to be. As most of us began working off-site last year, our teams have implemented a variety of health and safety measures to ensure we meet, and in many cases, exceed, requirements set by local health officials. 

As part of this effort, numerous protective measures are taken to align with our No. 1 priority, the well-being of our employees:

  • ExtNoc worked with all of its workplaces to determine what modifications would be required to support social distancing to comply with local health standards. During the workday, all employees and external staff were provided with personal supplies, such as disinfectant wipes and face coverings.
  • We have implemented attendance strategies for team-based or open/shared spaces, physical space adjustments when needed, or a combination of both based on organizational needs, to meet local capacity guidelines and social distancing requirements.
  • On-site service offerings have been updated and our facilities have been redesigned. Among other things, we have limited the number of conference rooms and the number of ExterNetworks HR services posted signs in common areas and cafeterias to promote social distancing and provided hand sanitizers throughout our buildings.
  • For our employees traveling to other sites as well as for our customers and partners visiting our sites, we have established similar, consistent quality standards.

While vaccination rates continue to rise and are important for reducing disease burden in our communities, the current rates do not lessen our on-site precautions or expectations at most of our work sites. To determine whether any changes to our workplace are needed, we continue to monitor the impact of the vaccine as well as public health guidance.

Why small businesses should go digital and how they can do it

In a changing world disrupted by COVID-19, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa can embrace many solutions offered by digital technology, or risk missing out on the future of business.

During the pandemic period, contactless pay points, data access, and other accessible technological innovations made business more manageable. Paying for goods and services at the point of sale with cashless methods is particularly advantageous to small and medium businesses.

The way consumers interact with money has changed since the onset of the pandemic. In a survey conducted earlier this year by Visa South Africa, 48% of consumers indicated that they would not shop at a store with payment methods that require contact, while 59% prefer contactless money transactions in general.

Small businesses need to get on board the digital train to stay relevant in a changing market as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. SMBs also have more and better options to do so as the options become easier and more accessible. Let’s look at some of them.

Online transactions and cashless systems

SMEs do not all have the same needs or requirements when it comes to going digital. Although some still require on-site support, others can be completely remote. There are two main things to consider for SMEs within the category when it comes to their digital presence.

  • Putting your business online is the first step. Online presence is essential in today’s world. Having an online presence means you can reach a much larger audience, even if you are still operating from your shop. 
  • Making use of non-cash-based payment methods is the second step. Once your business is online, you have the opportunity to allow customers to shop online. 

The best way to offer your customers the cheapest, safest method of paying for the goods or services they are procuring is to offer digital payments, even in a physical store setting.

Payments via contactless technology

Cashless payment methods present an opportunity to an SME that has not considered them. Customers have shown a preference for shopping online and paying online during lockdowns.

If you go digital, your customers can purchase your product online and pay for it with a credit card or use Apple Pay on their phone on the spot. However, it is more important that it extends your customer base because everyone can see your business.

You also don’t have to worry about handling large amounts of cash on your premises when you accept non-cash payments.

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