SMEs Going Global the Digital Way

Adopting digital tools and techniques has become crucial for small businesses looking to prosper and extend their reach beyond local borders in today's technology-driven world.

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Apurva Palnitkar Interview, Faiz Askari, SMEStreet Interview, GoDaddy India, SME Digital

SMEs are successfully integrating digital tools into their operations in order to gain competitive edge, improve efficiency, reach a wider customer base, and most importantly in order to go global more effectively. However, it's crucial for SMEs to carefully assess their needs, budget, and resources when selecting and implementing digital tools to ensure they align with their business goals.

Here is an exclusive interview of Mr Apurva Palnitkar, Senior Director Marketing, GoDaddy India with Faiz Askari of SMEStreet, in which key trends that are influencing digital adoption among SMEs are highlighted.

Faiz Askari: What role does digitalization play in enhancing the competitiveness of Indian SMEs in the global market?

Apurva Palnitkar: In today's technology-driven world, the adoption of digital tools and strategies has become paramount for small businesses seeking to thrive and expand their presence beyond local boundaries. A few advantages of going digital can include:

  • Operational Efficiency and Innovation: Digitalization can play a pivotal role in enhancing the competitiveness of Indian small businesses in the global market by driving operational efficiency. Using digital tools managing streamlined supply chains, optimized resource allocation, and management of pricing product quality and delivery times, can help to drive efficiencies and opportunities for improvement and growth. Moreover, access to new technologies like artificial intelligence, can help to foster innovation and differentiation of their products and services.
  • Market Reach and Customer Insights: Digitalization can empower small businesses with unprecedented access to an international customer base. E-commerce platforms such as an online store, social media networks, and online marketplaces enable small businesses to overcome physical barriers, reaching potential buyers across the country and around the world. This expanded reach has the potential to drive business growth and serves to gain knowledge of valuable customer insights. With these customers insights small businesses are better able to tailor their offerings to meet diverse market demands.
  • Agility and Adaptability: Digitalization can facilitate the agility and responsiveness to market trends which can provide small businesses with a competitive edge. Small businesses can more swiftly adapt to changing consumer preferences and industry dynamics, helping them remain relevant and appealing in a rapidly evolving global market, using a variety of digital tools tailored for their needs.
  • Informed Decision-Making: Digitalization can, enable informed decision-making by leveraging data-driven insights. For example, small businesses can review website metrics and make decisions based on real-time data results, potentially leading to better resource allocation, targeted marketing campaigns, product pricing and strategic expansion efforts.

Faiz: Which specific digital tools and technological advancements are important for ensuring the continued relevance and sustainability of SMEs in India amidst the swiftly evolving business landscape?

Apurva: To help ensure the continued relevance and sustainability of small businesses in India amidst the swiftly evolving business landscape, the use of specific digital tools and technological advancements can be important. Here are some key tools and advancements that can help play a role in business growth:

  • Websites and Domain Management: Establishing a professional and user-friendly website is a fundamental step for small businesses to create an online presence and be visible on the internet. Seventy of Indian small businesses reported that a website enhances the visibility of their company, and 68% accredited a website to the success of their business, according to our GoDaddy 2023 Data Observatory survey.  A well-designed website serves as a digital storefront, showcasing products, services, and company information. Additionally, securing a relevant and memorable domain name is crucial, as it represents the company’s brand identity in the digital realm. Having a distinct domain name lends credibility to the business and makes it easier for customers to find and remember the website. By integrating effective website design, with mobile optimization, and domain management into their digital strategy, small businesses can reach a broader scope of consumers, establish trust with customers, and more effectively compete in the digital marketplace.
  • Digital Marketing and Social Media Engagement: Building a strong online presence through digital marketing programs and social media platforms, in addition to having a website, helps enable small businesses to engage with their target audience directly. Engaging content and online campaigns can increase brand visibility, connect the company with potential customers, and help drive user engagement and loyalty, ultimately contributing to business growth.
  • Security Protections: Ensuring the security of digital assets is paramount for small business owners. Cybersecurity threats are ever-present, and small businesses are not immune. Implementing robust security protections is essential to safeguard sensitive data, customer information, and business operations. Small businesses can benefit from tools and strategies that offer threat detection, data encryption, and secure online transactions, thus providing peace of mind to both business owners and customers. GoDaddy offers a range of security solutions to assist small business owners in safeguarding their online presence. These services often include SSL certificates to encrypt data transmission, website security tools to protect against malware and hacking attempts, DDoS protection to mitigate large-scale attacks, and domain privacy services to shield personal information from public databases.

Faiz: Can you explain the significance of domain names in establishing trust and credibility for businesses?

Apurva: A custom domain name that matches the business’ name or conveys what the business does or offers plays a significant role in establishing trust and credibility for businesses online. Having a domain name that aligns with your company name creates a unique identity and helps establish the brand in the digital world. Additionally, consistency of business brand across online platforms, including social media channels helps to raise awareness of the brand and provides reassurance to customers and forms a positive first impression that underpins a business's legitimacy and reliability. GoDaddy offers a wide variety of domain names and top-level domain name extensions (TLDs) so that a small business owner can choose a name best for their business. Alongside, GoDaddy provides all the tools to scale a business online, and of course, offering resources like customer care so that small businesses can be successful at every step of the way. 

Faiz: How does a robust online presence, like the 66% of businesses valuing websites as seen in the GoDaddy survey, contribute to building credibility for Indian small businesses? Additionally, given the survey's 77% statistic regarding SMBs in India planning to integrate social media into their upcoming marketing efforts, could you provide more insights into the crucial role that social media plays in SMBs' marketing strategies?

Apurva: Our GoDaddy survey findings indicate that 62% of sales channels for Indian small businesses are rooted in websites, underscoring the vital nature of establishing a robust online identity. Additionally, 83% of Indian small businesses surveyed have ventured into online sales within the past five years. The pivotal role of data analytics in steering business expansion and delivering personalized customer experiences cannot be understated. Technology is ushering in a transformative era for business operations, enabling small enterprises in the digital era. We are excited to continue to support small businesses in the coming year with tools like GoDaddy Online Store and content creator tool, GoDaddy Studio, to help have a successful online journey.

Faiz: What do you think are the big industry trends in 2023 and how will they affect the business landscape?

Apurva: In 2023, GoDaddy has observed several significant patterns influencing the small business sector. A notable trend is the growing dependence of small businesses on online avenues. As indicated by the findings of our 2023 GoDaddy Observatory research, 62% of small businesses in India employ a website, online store, e-commerce platform, or a combination of these methods as their primary sales conduit. This underscores the importance of businesses focusing on the enhancement and effective management of their websites to effectively attract and engage customers.

Another noteworthy development is the differing importance of sales channels across various regions. For example, in India, social media has emerged as a highly pertinent sales channel, with 55% of surveyed respondents recognizing its significance. Furthermore, the accessibility of affordable smartphones in the country has played a role in adopting online platforms. Interestingly, the phone serves as a valuable sales channel in India, with 46% of small business considering it an effective tool compared to numerous other countries surveyed.

These trends underscore the vital need for businesses to embrace the digital landscape, invest in the advancement of their websites, and prioritize tailored customer interactions through diverse channels. These measures are crucial for maintaining competitiveness and achieving success within the ever-evolving industry panorama.




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