The global pandemic and economic recession have caused many SMEs especially with physical stores to close down, driving a rise in unemployment and a decline in consumer spending power. There has been a huge impact on sales and revenues across all channels.
Hence, the need to adapt and retool to service and thrive. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) recently declared December 2021 as vaccination month and further announced that persons who have not been vaccinated against the Novel Coronavirus will be denied access to some public places in the country from December 2021.
We are entering the busy holiday shopping season, when businesses and SMEs gear up for their most profitable quarter. The holidays are often a frantic time for retailers whiles safety remains a priority for consumers. While it is good for retailers to receive more orders, businesses will need to strategize their operations towards the session. Some few checklists to enable businesses to prepare include the following:
Budgeting for higher manpower costs: Having to fulfill more orders may require all hands on deck across the entire supply chain. Restaurants and chop bars as well as event organizers may need more servers or kitchen staff during this period.
Teams must be prepared to stay beyond their working hours in order to fulfill the increased demand. Making some early preparations towards your staff management can reduce some of your business costs. It is vital to budget for higher manpower costs. Hiring a couple more extra hands to help manage the busy period could cost less than losing and missing your customers’ orders during the holiday season.
Optimising your e-commerce platforms: Most customers are currently engaged in online shopping due to its convenience and lack of physical queues at the stores. Businesses should as much as possible ensure that they divert traffic from their physical stores which will help to take some load off their staff. Offering incentives for online shopping experience will increase business transactions online.
Consider optimizing your platform for a shorter loading time and navigation to improve the customers’ experience. Mobile applications are becoming very popular and very easy access to the products and services. SMEs should pay attention to order/delivery delays which may displease customers and send the wrong signal.
Flexible payment options: Consumers have always looked for flexible payment options when buying online, especially in this post-pandemic era as incomes and budgets have been impacted- enabling flexible payment options is essential.
Offering electronic payment especially with mobile money allows payments to be processed faster and requires less work than in-person payments. This will also accelerate cash flow and improve the overall buying experience and customer journey. Streamlining bill payments for your customer can help reduce barriers in getting money from their accounts into yours.
Ensuring your capacity matches customer demand: Getting the SMEs capacity right means meeting the needs of your customers without wasting resources. The business capacity refers to the amount of business you can do over a set period of time which include the number of products you can make in a month, or the number of customers you can serve in an hour. SMEs must note that capacity is not the same as capability. Capability means whether you can do something whereas capacity is about how much of that thing you can do.
Disruptions during the festive season: No matter what industry you operate in, supply and demand always increase during the holiday season. The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the production of products around the world and many SMEs are heading into the holiday season with the likelihood of facing problems associated with supply chain.
There is however enough time to take appropriate action to protect your business from this dilemma. SME owners should look to first conduct a holistic analysis of their business model and supply chain. Some of the most critical disruptions are related to cash flow and quick financing.
Furthermore, production shortages and shipping delays may further become a source of stress for the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs can set up multiple plans with the right amount of foresight and action to keep their supply chains up and running or at least use creative business ideas to recover losses in other ways.
Lecturer, University of Professional Studies, Accra.