By Pankaj Nawani – Product Head

One of the best managers I have ever worked with, a man who is credited with creating a powerhouse financial services firm from virtually nothing was very fond of a particular quote- “Small strokes fell great oaks”. Big outcomes do not necessarily come from seemingly big actions. More often than not they are a result of repeatedly doing small things right. And these words are true for the digital future of our small businesses too.

Due to the recent COVID-19 lockdown my mother-in-law, has been stuck in Pune (where I live) for the past few months. Not knowing local shopkeepers and chemists, she found a nearby pharmacy on Google for her monthly supply of medicines and since then gets them delivered by the store on time every single month. Since the supply was regular and there were no complaints, I never gave the arrangement a second thought, till yesterday when I saw that the pharmacy, she ordered from is nearly 6 km away from our home! I was surprised that the search skipped 20 other pharmacies enroute! How did this happen and was it a one off? I made some enquiries with other people and found that this particular pharmacy makes at least 2 deliveries to our housing society every day. With an average order value of Rs 3000 per delivery, the pharmacy is earning at least Rs.2 lakh per month from one housing society alone. Astonishingly, he doesn’t play the price game either to woo his customers! Then what accounts for his popularity? Here are the reasons –

1. Understand search marketing & how you rank on it: Most small business owners do not understand search marketing. Their view is that being listed on Google with their phone number alone should suffice. It doesn’t work that way. You have to make sure that your listing is 100% (working phone numbers, photos of your store, correct location etc). Most business owners do this listing as a one-time exercise and don’t update.

2. Have a social media presence for your business. What’s seen is what’s sold: You might think having a small website, Facebook page or a twitter account is a fad, but your customer is present on these platforms and so should you. It helps your customers remain in touch, establish credibility for your business and also helps you build more authority. Put simply the more you are present online, the more you’re searched & talked about by your customers, the better your chances of discovery on a Google search wrt. your competition.

3. Invest in a CRM system. Don’t ask the customer the same question twice: Who is your customer, what does she order and what is her desired frequency of delivery. It will help you not only be in constant touch but also cut down the cost of doing business. It does not take much to update your simple excel worksheet and set reminders on the same. There are shopkeepers who do this on nothing more than pen and paper. While the age-old system works, your customer’s behaviour is changing towards expecting flawless service at the click of a button, your business should adapt quickly to the change.

4. Customer Testimonials are important. Actively seek them out: In today’s world nothing gives more legitimacy to your business than customer testimonials and ratings. This is something that you need to be actively promoting. Make it your goal to get a couple of good testimonials per week. Conversely be very aware of negative comments on your business. Do everything you can to make sure that the customer complaint/feedback is not only addressed but also seen to be addressed. Your reputation is very important. Enhance it and guard it with all you have.

5. Create interesting content: No matter how boring you think your business is, there are always things that customers don’t know about your product and which if told to them, is likely to be appreciated. Put that content out, gather feedback and improve. I still recall how a juice seller showed me how to peel a pomegranate and pick the right watermelon. It’s been 12 years since then and I still remember him fondly. Make your trade knowledge more accessible to your customers and they will appreciate it. Repeat the process and over time you will have a repository which will put you far ahead of your competition.