Equipped for the digital age – what does that even mean?

“Equipped for the digital age” is an RTE News article today, yet what does “equipped” mean.  This article goes through major points for all businesses but …

The article can be found here on RTE News.

The survey, conducted by Core Research among 1,000 people, was published today to mark Internet Day, hosted annually by IE Domain Registry, the company that manages and maintains Ireland’s country domain, .ie

 

What’s surprising when reading the article is that if focuses on the survey not what happened on the day.

Although there are major salient points there is very little “here’s what to do about it” in the article to help businesses in the article itself.

Yet it pops in the business section of the RTE News app.

On the day it appears there was help but how to get your hands on that help today the day after?

 

The scope affects big and small businesses alike but how?  You don’t know what you don’t know, so how are you supposed to fix it?

This article goes through the survey and the contents of the article and offers suggestions.

  • Piece by Piece
  • Equipped for the digital age
  • Step by Step
  • Wrap up

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Piece by Piece

Internet Day

Internet Day is defined by the IEDR as “a day of celebration which aims to promote awareness, knowledge, use and understanding of the internet among citizens, businesses and communities.”

It was the 25th of October 2018 just in case you missed it.

Personally I’m not celebrating, I’m in business.  There’s work to do.

Promoting awareness that I’m behind the times is good… but how do I fix it.  I know I have tons of problems in my life, what I need are solutions.

 

Ahead of the curve

Crossing the Chasm
Ron Mader image from Flickr about Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm

Six-in-ten Irish people have used an emerging digital technology like smart appliances, mobile payments or augmented reality, according to a new survey commissioned by IE Domain Registry to mark Internet Day.

Emerging technologies are interesting.  The change landscapes.  They change the status quo but how do they affect my business today.

The honest truth is that until they become wide spread technologies very few business can afford to invest in emerging technologies until customers expect them.

Take Internet enabled cars.  They’ve been around a while but there’s more not enable than enabled.  Why?

Very simply it depends on your character and the character of your customers.

Taking the model by Geoffrey Moore about technology adoption and selling new technologies, Ireland might be considered ahead of the curve.

 

So what’s in it for my business

It suggests almost two-thirds (63%) of us buy consumer items online at least monthly, while one-in-ten have purchased a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

According to worldpopulationreview.com in 2017, 4.8 Million people live in Ireland.  Dublin has 1.1 million of those.   I live in Meath.  So how many of these are equipped for the digital age?

Whilst those numbers could be out… I’d consider them reasonable assumptions.

So there is definitely a market for buying things online.  I’m definitely in that statistic.  The question becomes buying what.

 

I buy cutting technological items along with novelty and specialty items which are not in any shop anywhere near my home in Meath.

My purchases are sporadic and low volume.  My favorite is buying specialty coffee from Mahers in Cork.  I used to drive to Cork to visit their store but its now online.

Did I find them online… no.  I was in their shop in Cork and the lady behind the counter said “you know we’re online now.”  And do you ship to Meath?  Yes.  Sold!

Two keys points arose from that.  1 … marketing.  2… shipping.

 

Equipped for the digital age

Excuses

Most people (68%) say their local town and local businesses are not equipped for the digital age and in areas outside Dublin, nearly one-in-five said their internet connection was too poor to facilitate e-commerce.

Understanding that hosting means your business is in the cloud, means you don’t need a fast internet connection in your business.

If you can get email or a text message, you can host your online eCommerce store anywhere.  Please tell people this

 

According to the survey, 46% of people cannot book appointments online for services in their local town.

A form on a web page that sends an email, is a booking system.  Again a business situation corrected in seconds with a good WordPress site.  Will people visit the website?

 

Products vs. Services

Services

This figure drops to just a third (33%) in Dublin, but rises to more than half (51%) in areas outside the capital.

Recognising that people do business with people you have to ask about the appetite for the consumer.

Of the people you know, if every business today had a website and contact form, what percentage prefer chatting to a person?

I have had business websites and done marketing for over 15 years in Ireland.  Of those, exactly none have ever done business starting with the website.

People buy from people.  So when considering services as opposed to products, be careful reading those figures.

 

Hairdressers are the most likely to offer online booking (29% in total) while handymen and mechanics are the least likely (both 12%).

Ever have a good plumber, mechanic or electrician?  Gold dust!  Our plumber is so in demand we wait 3 months for him to be available.  He doesn’t need to be online.

For building based services having a booking system is helpful but it won’t be your only form of sales.

 

No matter how equipped for the digital age a business is, people like to be made feel special and that involves personalisation.

The level of tech for personalisation is doable using computers but the Return on Investment is currently prohibitive even for the largest organisations in Ireland.

I know I’m building AI for personal relationship building.

 

Products

65% of those surveyed said they would buy more from their local shops if those shops had some form of click-and-collect service which allowed them to order a product online and pick it up in store.

Finally, a game changer.  Click and collect.  So two bits here.

Firstly I need a shopping cart of my products on line.  Next a payment gateway so I can pay for the goods.

Then a notification to my physical store, either to a mobile or a computer… this is coming to be collected and it’s already paid for.

Love it.

Go one step further.  Organise the shipping and I’ll have it delivered to your house!  It’s what Amazon do!  They’re kind big… right?

 

Working from home

Almost two-in-ten people work remotely from home at least once per month and over four-in-ten say that they cannot, because their presence is required in the office.

If you have a service or you sell products there is some sort of interaction required.  This of course massively reduces the working from home capability.

Whats more interesting a question is, could the role be performed remotely and you choose not to.

There is a massive part of comradery that comes only from being with your team.  Whist there are attempts to work on Artificial Intelligence for emotions not everyone is equipped for the digital age in this way.

 

Step by Step

The big first questions

Please use the following flow chart to figure as a starting point for getting online.

Shopify is a website amongst others that lets you get a store built online to start selling your products.

Getting a website is a matter of getting a WordPress or Wix site up and running with some nice pictures.

 

The whole process lacks one essential part which every business owner will recognise… if people don’t know about my service / product, I won’t sell any.

This introduces the dreaded area of sales and marketing.

A website is a tool which helps to increase your ability to process orders.  So if you have orders coming in, great.

What most business owners do not have the challenge of is “so many orders coming in we need to be more efficient”

 

The real question behind the interest

Being equipped for the digital age is the same as the not digital age, how do we make more money for our business.

So your time will come down to a real statement of intent, not “general interest”.

  • I need to make more money / generate more business.
  • I need to be more efficient in my business.

Or a combination of both but one will have more priority than the other.

There is no denying that the internet and the digital age is a way of connecting to a wider audience.

Having a full online presence with everything automated is certainly possible

Consider your business a house.  What you have to sell and what you do is “inside your house”.  How do you get people to visit your house!

Once your customers are at your house, then you have a whole different set of challenges.  You built it and they came to you.

 

Getting them to your house

Marketing.  There are a variety of tactics.  From major advertising campaigns to social media to good old fashioned cold calling / door knocking.

If you generate interest the hard way, make sure you’re open for business.  An online presence is there 24/7, your phyiscal shop / mobile phone isn’t.

Even the appearance of being 24/7 through a website is a comfort to a customer.

“I don’t do online”, no problem.  Hire people who do.  Let them do the work.  They’re out there but you will pay for them to generate interest for you.

You just want people to come and visit.

 

Managing your guests

Equipped for the digital age means being equipped to deal with people when they visit you digitally.

So when you have someone visit… today… how do you treat them?  How do you say thank you for them deciding to spend time at your house.

MSNBC’s Ari Melber makes the point brilliantly at the end of YouTube videos.  Jumping below to the last few seconds which makes the point.

Jump to 14:44… right near the end.  You could be anywhere in the world, but you’re here with us and we appreciate that!

Technology can help and make your operation more slick and efficient.   Where you don’t personally have the skills there are many who can help.

 

Wrap up

People are aware of the Internet but what it can do for them is like saying “there are motorised vehicles in the world”.

People become as equipped for the digital age as their own attitudes allow.

Getting what’s right for and appropriate for you is the trick.

 

Think 40 foot truck vs. fork lift vs. mini cooper.  All have varying uses in business.

Access to people who can point out options is important and I applaud the work of the IEDR to have the day and raise awareness.

They are trying to help people become more equipped for the digital age.

So I came to IEDRs house… their website and I want to know more… there’s no contact form on that page!

There was a demonstration on the day

  • ‘How to build a website in 20 minutes’ which will demonstrate how to build a website from scratch in 20 minutes with a newly registered domain and no coding required

Where do I go to see that?  What do I even put in that?

 

Finally from me to you, you can get me on social media, you can fill out this form which gets to me and it’ll get me 24/7 or just phone me +353 1 429 4000.

The point is to have people help people.  There are people here to help.  From one entrepreneur to another I commend your spirit, let’s help each other.

 

You could have read any other blog or article but you took the time to read mine.  Thank you!  I appreciate it.

If there’s anything else in this article you’d like to chat to me about you can contact me here or on social media.

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