2020 is already setting itself apart from 2019, with the turn of the year bringing some long-awaited clarity and eagerly anticipated opportunity. This resulted in a much-needed confidence boost for Welsh businesses. But what can Welsh firms do to make the most of this new energy to carry them through into the new decade?
Well, a lot have already decided that digital is the way to kickstart their growth. A study from Hitachi Capital Business Finance found that two-thirds of SME leaders want to sharpen their teams’ skills in 2020, with digital sitting top of the priority pile.
After a painful 2019, retail is front of the queue for upskilling, with over half of the sector looking to increase their tech expertise. With customers doing more and more of their shopping online, relying on footfall isn’t enough as firms look to avoid a Christmas hangover.
"Being a digitally fit company will help us continue to grow.”
Online retailer Bearhug Sports, who sell bamboo-charcoal supports to athletes of all levels, have already made the most of digital, clinching 50% more sales online in just 5 months.
“Bearhug’s online presence is vital to the business,” says Chief Brand Builder, Alexander Davies. “Through our online presence, we use social media to promote our products and the brand and then we also take all of our orders through our own website. Shopify has allowed us to develop the business with all the integrations it has available, especially Xero, which is our cloud-based accounting system.”
Retailers like Bearhug can enhance the customer experience through accessible web design, making the sales journey much easier and, for the business, that means more sales.
But it’s not just retailers who can change the way they do business with digital. While e-commerce focuses on the customer, internal stakeholders stand to gain just as much. Even if it starts as something that lets you make more of your time or makes life easier, digital can also make your business level up.
“For someone learning on the job, the support I’ve received from #Superfastbiz was integral”
With a new year comes new opportunities. However, it’s important to make sure your business is geared up and ready to grow. That’s just what Maid In North Wales did, as they sought to win a piece of the £3.2 billion North Wales tourism industry.
“Paper systems had always worked well for me in the past, but it got to the point where I was struggling to keep on top of all the bookings coming in,” said founder Alex Parkes.
“I needed an online system where I could easily log arrival and check-out dates, and store client details as well as staff clock in and out times.”
Following support from Superfast Business Wales, Alex adopted a CRM system and accountancy package to help manage her fast-growing cleaning firm. “It took a while to get used to, but I wouldn’t go back to my paper diaries now.”
Having spotted the need to get digitally fit, it’s now time for Welsh businesses to become digitally strong – and 6,000 of them have already upped the ante and registered for expert help.
Superfast Business Wales, a Welsh Government programme designed to help SMEs put digital at the heart of their business, have rolled out their 2020 schedule of free workshops, with topics ranging from social media and digital marketing, to what online tools to use and CRM systems.
Their workshops have already identified what technology can help Welsh businesses, while the 1:1 session that follows is a chance for firms to get expert advice tailored to them.
Alex of Maid In North Wales says: “Adam Gerrard, my business adviser with Superfast Business Wales, was fantastic. He was so knowledgeable and really helped me understand what technology could help me and how to use it.”
So, if your new year’s resolution was to take your business to the next level, it’s time to do it for real.