SMEs: boost revenue $A385 billion a year

Business owners often talk about the challenges of running a small-to-medium sized company – challenges like managing cash flow and staff while finding and keeping customers. But a growing concern in the sector is the potential impacts of an evolving digital economy.

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ANZ recently surveyed over 1000 micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Australia to learn more about how they're using digital to run their businesses.

"Online is becoming mission critical for all sizes of business.”

The research found businesses which used digital tools and data effectively were saving around 10 hours in productivity per week and had 27 per cent better annual revenue.

If you equate this across the sector, it’s a windfall of up to $A385 billion in additional revenue per year and a saving of 22 million hours per week. 

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An online presence is becoming mission critical for all sizes of business - particularly when trying to compete overseas but also domestically. 

Combined with utilising the associated data, it can enable businesses to better understand their customers - not only their buying patterns but also their preferred methods of customer communication, service and delivery. However, the research shows only one in five SMEs are using data analytics to gather customer insights.

For example Peter Macaulay, Managing Director of Kitchen Warehouse, says a cloud-based enterprise resource planning system proved to be the foundation for building his business’s overall strategy.

“[It has] enabled us to have a single view of our customers, a single view of our transactions and everyone within the business is working on the same metrics as each other,” he says.

“We really try to collect as much data about customer behaviour both in store and online to understand how best to arrange our products and deliver what our customers require.”

Macaulay says it’s very important to have a digital strategy and to leverage data but businesses should be wary of someone promising the latest shiny object.  

“Be very clear about what outcomes you require.”

The research also shows many SMEs lack a well-defined digital strategy; however this will eventually become the standard for doing business in Australia.

Building a digital strategy presents an opportunity for SMEs to examine how their business is running and should include a thorough review and assessment of current operating practices as well as employee and customer engagement.

Among other considerations, SMEs advice to others was to begin with identifying long-term objectives as well as relevant, cost effective and sustainable solutions that align with those goals.

Guy Mendelson is General Manager of Small Business Banking at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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