Updated: May 3, 2020
On the morning of 21st March 1990, we woke up to a new country, a new beginning ripe with opportunity and pickings in unserved industries. That morning very few locals had capital to rent a business premises, import stock, or market their business effectively beyond their local community, without which it might not prove feasible. Fast forward 27 years later and the country’s growth rate is snail, the unemployment rate high, and the aforementioned barriers higher but the need for small and medium businesses to kick start economic growth even higher. The SME sector remains one of the most promising economic sectors contributing up to 80% of GDP in global economies, and affirmed as a catalyst for economic growth and employment creation.
the cost of doing business keeps on rising
Government has tried over the years to encourage entrepreneurship with setting up of funds, and centres alike but these are still insufficient, as the cost of doing business keeps on rising. The solution herein lies in the use of digital media to not only market, but also create and expand businesses.
The digital platform is ripe with opportunity and aglitter with new possibilities. A social media page is on its own a business, but for legitimacy and growth one might need to go a little further than just posting for sale items ala a BUY & SELL NAMIBIA page. The largest costs associated with starting a business are; premises, inventory, marketing, and then expansion. These will be explained in further detail below.
The digital medium has made business premises more of a credibility tool, than a necessity in some industries. A fully functional store can be run from a website. Brandfontein offers online stores with tools such as inventory management, ordering, and invoicing and is working on introducing Ewallet and Bluewallet as payment methods to supplement Paypal and Debit cards. Everything is online and the products are delivered to the client, at their expense. A nice store in a central location can set one back as much as N$ 30 000 monthly, and have an estimated 10 000 walk-ins. An online store with good customer targeting and remarketing can guarantee the same results at with only a quarter of that budget and minus the added stress of security, maintenance, and HR.
With regards to stock or inventory as a barrier, several online suppliers provide a credit line to purchasers who resell online. They sometimes even go as far as shipping directly to your client while you receive the payment, to create the phenomenon that is called drop shipping. The use of certain payment systems even allows you to pay for items only after they are ordered minimizing risk of sitting on obsolete stock.
Marketing is the obvious one. The internet offers not only advertising platforms galore, both free and low cost, but it also offers measurability to let the user business know whether their ads are working like they should. Advantages which traditional advertising mediums can’t even think of imitating. Marketers need to and researchers need to ask themselves if they are spending enough to maintain awareness, if their primary messages are getting through, if their competitors are outflanking them, if their advertising is having positive effects on the brand’s image and whether the media mix is optimal.
Growth & Expansion With regard to growth and expansion, uptake of digital tools has the potential to contribute to the exponential growth of the SME sector in terms of product/service provision or market expansion. A company can easily expand to let’s say Luanda, Angola by translating a version of their site to be accessed in the new market, by geo-targeting their ads and optimizing their key words for Angola and Portuguese, and contracting with an entity that delivers to the target area. The overall cost will be less than a 5% of what it would cost to physically move there and I’m not even counting ‘cooldrink’ money. This Article was written by S.E Haihambo a Windhoek based Digital Marketing strategist with extensive experience in marketing and growth development for SMEs and Medium Enterprises. He is currently Head: Digital Marketing at Tribefire Studios and a Consultant at Brandfontein.