How Traditional Businesses Should Evolve to Fit in the Modern Market
In many business discussions, I have come across people asking whether most traditional businesses stand a chance in the face of modern technology. Opinion on the same has always been divided. Some say that all traditional businesses will die, others say that only a section of industries is in danger. Yet some rigidly argue that traditional businesses will stand the test of time as they are.
Well, arguments can be biased, based on where one finds themselves. Over several years, and as someone who has taken part in both traditional and modern-day business practices, I have tried to give the whole question a more scientific approach. Because it does not matter what you think; what matters is the truth.
My answer is one that could have been easy to formulate: businesses that evolve will survive; those that refuse to do so will die. What I’m calling ‘evolution’ is what other people call ‘innovation.’ I don’t like to use the word ‘innovation’ because, in my opinion, you don’t have to be innovative as a business. Rather, you could embrace the innovativeness of others and let it work for you.
Now that I have observed that businesses need to evolve to stay relevant, let me dive into the ‘how?’
Are some businesses in more danger of obsoleteness than others?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, but the same fate is coming to all industries at different times. When online popularity began growing, it was thought that only traditional media would be affected. But alas! Technology has upset the balance in transportation, housing, hospitality, communication and even retail. From observation, it would be foolhardy to think that any industry can escape the change.
How do traditional businesses position themselves for the future?
The common and unsatisfactory answer many people get for this question is ‘go online.’ With this understanding, many traditional businesses create websites and leave it at that. When such websites don’t improve the performance of the business, owners dump the entire idea of going online.
But going online is a diverse term. It involves elements like creating websites that actually work, re-organizing marketing strategies, migrating existing customers to the online platforms and actually making it possible for the business to sell its main product online.
First up, traditional business owners need to relax. Traditional media has survived a great onslaught; your business will survive too. Do not rush to create a website just to have an online presence. Take time to establish the exact needs of your business. What improvements do you want it to bring?
With your exact needs defined, you will be able to know the best designer to engage and the specific demands you make of them. You will be clear on things like site pages and content like a blog section, online purchases, support and maintenance of links to social media pages.
For retail and B2B businesses, adopting online sales and shipping is a key evolution tactic. This model allows you to capture a larger geographical region. You can serve as diverse an area as the entire globe. This way, you retain your chances of expansion even with your physical premises in place.
Traditional businesses have to re-assess how they advertise and market themselves. Just as consumption of content has moved online, you need to meet your potential customers where they are. The entire marketing teams to be remodelled to combine traditional marketing (newspapers, broadcast, billboards, etc.) with modern marketing and advertising tools like influencer marketing, SEO, social media marketing and email marketing.
Marketing campaigns should not be just about targeting new customers. They should also involve making existing customers feel that they are being offered more convenience. In this sense, I have noted that traditional businesses have an edge over start-ups. If you have customers who were flocking your store then you offer them the convenience of ordering online, they are likely to pick your online store over a start-up with similar services or goods.
Technology is going to affect all industries of business. If your sector has not been upset already (and I struggle to identify one that has not), the wave is coming to you shortly. The three key areas of evolution I have fingered are marketing, service delivery, and online presence. Any sector of business can align itself along these three lines and survive the technological onslaught. If the phrase ‘if you cannot beat them then join them’ never applied so perfectly, it does now in modern-day business.