After having finally emerged from the doldrums of the 2008 global economic crisis, Scotland is one again experiencing impressive levels of growth. Recent figures released by the Scottish government pointed out that there are currently more than 365,600 small businesses throughout the nation (1). This is the highest figure since the year 2000 and such prosperity is not likely to slow down any time soon. While the strength of the Scottish economy is certainly a contributing factor, one of the main reasons for such growth involves the number of enterprises found within the online community.
Will this digital migration change the ways in which businesses conduct operations and if so, what can Scottish entrepreneurs expect in the coming years?The Rise of the Digital AgeThere are several reasons why Scottish businesses are choosing the online community to promote their products and services. The most obvious is that they will be able to reach a much larger target audience when compared to the limitations associated with traditional brick-and-mortar operations. However, this is only scratching the surface. Some other motivating factors include:
- Lower overhead.
- The ability to eliminate potential middlemen.
- Cross-channel marketing capabilities.
- Streamlined e-commerce solutions.
Bespoke platforms such as the user-friendly Oberlo app have taken the guesswork out of sending products to customers; even if they happen to be located thousands of kilometres away. This would be very difficult to achieve through standard methods and it should also be pointed out that physical storage facilities are no longer required when implementing a third-party drop shipping firm.The real question is how these innovations will impact the average Scottish business. The answer partially depends upon whether stakeholders are able to recognise the opportunities at their immediate disposal. While there is nothing inherently wrong with "business as usual", the fact of the matter is that many opportunities will invariably be missed if the online community is not properly leveraged.
We should fully expect an even more pronounced paradigm shift into this sector in the coming months and years.What Might We Witness in 2019?We should once again reinforce the observation made in the last paragraph. The number of user-friendly software bundles that are intended to cater to small- to medium-sized businesses is on the rise. It is therefore completely logical to assume that the businesses themselves will continue to evolve as the technology becomes available. The Oberlo software application is only one example of how methods such as drop shipping are beginning to transform the entire sector.
What other trends will dominate the coming year?The role of social media will continue to impact the ways in which Scottish businesses conduct their day-to-day operations. It is estimated that more than 2.77 billion users will be "plugged in" to these platforms by 2019, so they are absolutely essential if a firm wishes to reach its intended audience (2). This brings us to another important point.Scottish organisations are also likely to target a broader client base than in the past. No longer will geographic borders influence sales and marketing campaigns.
Instead, the potential to reap impressive profits is only hindered by one's vision and determination. Thanks to the addition of the new GDPR framework, a greater amount of transparency is likely to accommodate this global movement.This begs the question as to whether or not the traditional Scottish business model is destined to suffer an ignominious death. While some analysts believe that the physical retail sector may decline slightly as a result of the digital migration, it is much more likely that these firms will simply adapt to changing times. Cross-channel marketing, digital integration with physical POS outlets and streamlined customer service departments can all aid in this transformation.So, how can businesses begin to embrace the approaches mentioned above? The first step is to conduct a thorough analysis of all ongoing operations in order to determine which sectors need to be modified.
A handful of other powerful tips include:
- Utilising the services of third-party e-commerce platforms such as Oberlo.
- Designing websites to cater to mobile users.
- Creating responsive and intuitive online checkout platforms.
- Regularly monitoring sales pipelines to determine if any future changes need to be made.