SME’s need to leverage web and mobile tools to gain edge in competitive marketplace

With an increasingly competitive marketplace,  most small and medium sized enterprises are not using digital tools to gain competitive edge or at least ensure improved business prospects. While they interact with millions of consumers daily,  many firms do not make the effort to collect or analyze consumer data. Some insights from interactions with silicon valley based firms filling this gap would perhaps put things into perspective.

Group buying sites such as Groupon, spurred a worldwide craze in the daily deal space that saw a handful of startups locally get onto the same boat. There has been a continued debate on whether the Kenyan marketplace can support long term the daily deal, discounted pricing model, as the platform providers take a cut of the already discounted price, meaning most businesses would not look at daily deals as a long term strategy.

A different approach such as that adopted by Schedulicity – which offers online calendar and scheduling tools for small businesses is such that they empower businesses to offer deals on the fly to an already qualified client base. So instead of a spa using a daily deal platform to try get new business, it will offer the discounted pricing customers they have engaged in the past and at a time when they have available inventory. This allows them to fully utilize idle time.

Another example would be the use of Facebook to acquire leads or at best close a sale. It’s a given that there are over one million Kenyans on Facebook but the most that businesses think of using the platform for, is to advertise instead of engaging actively on the platform. An advert on Facebook takes the consumer out of the environment in which they engaged. If you look closely at the firms making a killing off Facebook, all of them engage from within the platform. Daily Digital has a facebook storefront solution that allows content creators to sell and deliver video, audio images, docs and other files directly to their audience. Daily Digital may have focused on digital goods but they still serve as an example of what can be done differently.

That’s said, the solution providers should also up their game in the creation and marketing of such platforms. The SME’s may argue and quite validly, that they have not been exposed to such tools that will allow them to grow their businesses and that they are willing to pay a reasonable fee for them.

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.

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