10 ways Covid-19 has accelerated merchants' need for digital transformation

A few months ago – which let’s face it, in 2020 feels more like years – we posted a blog about how lockdown had accelerated merchants’ use of technology. Now, as we reach the end of this rollercoaster of a year, it is absolutely clear that that is the case – and that the benefits of digital transformation are not only undeniable, but are increasingly becoming a necessity.


So here are the top 10 ways that we believe Covid-19 has accelerated merchants' need for digital transformation.


1. Digital is becoming the baseline expectation from customers


Consumer habits are crossing over into the business world at a dizzying rate – it’s not just domestic customers expecting the Amazon experience anymore. A whole generation of digital natives is taking over the global customer base at pace, and their expectations for digital delivery of services and products is becoming the norm. Resistance, as they say, is futile.


2. Ecommerce won’t work well without digital infrastructure


Yes, more and more merchants are opting to add eCommerce to keep up with customer expectation and enable business to continue regardless of lockdowns. However, an eCommerce system needs digital foundations in order to operate effectively and facilitate an acceptable user experience for customers.


You can find out more about digital transformation here, or check out this checklist of 5 things to consider if you’re adding eCommerce.


3. Sustainability is a core concern for every business

Sustainability should be a key priority for every business in the world, and it goes a lot further than upping the recycling or even following stringent certification regulations.


Digital systems are much more environmentally sound than their legacy counterparts, and can actively promote more sustainable practices. Sustainability goes deeper within your business than you might think – check out our recent blog on 10 ways a cloud ERP system can drive sustainability for merchants.


4. Merchants need to be economically viable – and that means increased efficiencies and measurability


The pressure on businesses has never been greater, and that of course extends to merchants. It is simply not viable any more to run a business uneconomically – and that means you need streamlined processes, increased efficiencies and the ability to deploy staff and stock in the most profitable, valuable ways.


Do note, that doesn’t necessarily mean replacing people with technology, but it definitely does mean using technology as a tool to get the most value out of every area of your business and workforce.


5. Stock management is no longer enough – it needs to be working harder


Stock excellence is a massive priority – a merchant’s stockholding is the heart of the business and everyone needs to be squeezing every ounce of value out of it.


Digital systems allow for far greater accuracy and efficiency than ever before, meaning merchants can optimise the value of their stockholding, enhance availability and profitability, and provide superior service for customers. If you'd like to learn more, check out this post on how to get more value from your existing stockholding.


6. Digital allows the agility to meet constantly shifting challenges


No-one knows all the challenges that the next few months and years will hold, but one thing is certain: digital is faster to update and is much easier to adapt to new requirements.


With all the uncertainties in the supply chain and commercial marketplace, merchants need every advantage to help meet demand and service customers well.


7. Technology moves fast, and digital is the only realistic way to keep up


Digital allows you to continually refresh your capability and offering, have the latest version of the system and be able to add modules, features and functionality without expensive or time-consuming projects and consultations. Updates can be done remotely, [relatively] inexpensively and fast.


Digital also allows much better communication frameworks, allowing you to keep in touch with customers better and develop trusting relationships. A well-informed customer will nearly always be happier than one left in the dark.


8. It facilitates remote working (and reduces paperwork)


Not so long ago, very few people needed to work from home regularly. Fast forward to now, and it’s fast becoming a necessity for any business needing to keep operating. Of course there will always be merchant staff who need to be on site, but digital ERP systems enable more staff to work remotely or flexibly, which reduces delays and means your business is more likely to be able to continue providing seamless service for your customers.


There are also practical advantages like less physical paperwork and digital delivery to reduce the need for human contact – which again has become an urgent priority.


9. Help your workforce to do their jobs better with less frustration (and be a more attractive employer)


Digital systems can help each member of your team to do their job even better and more productively, with less wasted time and effort. That in itself is very motivating, but the simple interfaces and intuitive functionality make everything easier, with information readily available – and that is a massive plus for any and every staff member.


As well as enhancing communications, adopting new technologies will also make you a more attractive employer and will make onboarding much faster for new staff, as modern, digital systems are usually much simpler to use than traditional legacy systems.


10. Less financial risk up front


Without the hefty expensives of legacy system hardware, you can get set up for a lot less than you might think (and much, much faster!) Plus, with some suppliers you can spread payments with more modern subscription-based pricing, and only pay for the features each user actually needs.


No-one needs to be paying over the odds right now, and this way even your financial commitment can be flexible as you can add and suspend users as needed.


Digital reluctance is perfectly normal

We get that change is a daunting prospect and switching to a digital strategy is not always simple. It requires buy-in across the whole organisation and it will involve significant disruption to the day-to-day operations for a while. But the benefits are enormous, and digital adoption is far becoming less of a choice and more of an absolute imperative.


Need more convincing?

If all that isn’t enough to convince you then maybe you’d like to see a digital system in action for yourself. If you’d like to have a play with our cloud ERP system UT400, and find out just how straightforward and intuitive it is, just register here for your free login details and you can take it for a test drive.