For most Zimbabwean businesses, the end of 2018 was uninspiring. The economic environment dampened the mood making business more difficult or impossible to execute profitably. A few days into the new year looks like the right time to explore how you can improve your business processes in order to breathe a new lease of life into your operations. 2019 calls for more creative, more innovative interventions, because the prevailing environment will not reward stagnancy. Admittedly, there are many ways to revamp your business this year but we look at a few powerful ones below.
Consider delivery of products
Over the past few months, the country has experienced an increase in companies that deliver their products to their customers. Let’s face it, fuel shortages have aided those who deliver products to their customers. Imagine ordering your pizza in the comfort of your own home without having to drive to the nearest shopping mall. This is what Simbisa Brands is offering via their Dial a Delivery app. In the fresh vegetables sector, we have seen new start ups Fresh In a Box and E-mbare leading the pack when it comes to delivering at customers’ doorsteps. Some companies also deliver fuel. Undoubtedly, this is a way to cater for the busier customers. Because this is something that many other companies are doing, you need to do it well, be courteous and on time every time. In South Africa, a late Pizza delivery means that Pizza is free. Those are the consequences of doing a sub standard job. You need to always ensure that your systems are top notch and are operating with minimum glitches. Otherwise you may lose out. Your customer will feel that you have saved them time and money by coming to them with the product.
Selling your products online is another way of revamping your business. In this day and age, anyone looking for something first googles it. With the current cash problems in Zimbabwe, electronic and mobile money are the in thing. As such, many are advertising and allowing their customers to order goods via Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter and accepting mobile money transfers and RTGS. Those who can afford to build their own websites or online stores are doing so. This is a phenomenon which is still growing in the country but those who grab the bull by the horns now will definitely reap positively. If you are going to sell anything online, make sure what you advertise is exactly what you are selling. Do not fall into the temptation of taking nicely photo-shopped products and passing them onto your adverts as your own. Your customers will be shocked when the real product arrives. Be truthful about the quality and condition of what you are selling online. This will gain you a lot of respect among your customers.
Use interactive tools
Also related to online selling, you should consider utilising more interactive advertising and selling techniques as you interface with your customers. In developed countries, we have seen an interesting trend where real estate agencies advertise properties with virtual tours, not just pictures. What this means is that the customer can have a 360 degree view of the house, almost as if they are watching a video of it. This can help in cases where some of your customers are in other countries and cannot possibly come and view your products physically. If you are looking for something less costly, Facebook and WhatsApp video calls are ideal. Skype is also useful in this regard. This is something that many Zimbabwe companies tend to ignore not knowing that businesses around the world are already miles ahead.
In our current economic environment, things can change in the blink of an eye. What was legal yesterday may no longer be legal today. As a result, what made you money today may not make you money tomorrow. Your business should be flexible and ready to adapt fast. Even prices are moving at such a frightening pace and you should embrace those conditions and work your way around them. The last thing you need is failing to restock after selling too low. Do not pass the problem onto your customers, innovate smarter ways to transact and your customers will willingly pay.
Dare to be different
What attracts your customers to your products and services is your value proposition. What is it that you can do that differentiates you from your competitors? Your customer should be able to pick out your product from hundreds other chicken sellers. Sell differently and create a buying experience that they will always cherish. Again, if you are selling the same product with others, put a few add-ons, package it differently, offer discounts and specials. Don’t be afraid to be the odd one out. Research what your market needs and tailor make your products accordingly. Your business will be as good as new.
There is no one size fits all remedy when it comes to business. You need to be on the look out for new and better ways to do business, ways that will increase your revenue flows. Your business needs to continuously reinvent and revamp. In 2019, return phone calls. Respond to all emails. Whatever you promise your customer, do.