Wherever we look, the way we do business is changing. You only need to pop into your local supermarket to see this in action: the self-service checkouts; the posters prompting you to buy online for quick delivery straight to your door.
In your workplace, you’re likely to see the same, because the digital economy and ever-more-complex technological advances are combining to fundamentally alter how the commercial sphere works.
In areas like Teddington, which pride themselves on their local businesses, this is often a cause for concern. While big corporations are able to adapt, there are fears that smaller companies might struggle to keep up, and that this could sadly spell their end.
But how are digital businesses really impacting our local economy? Here’s what you need to know.
Ease and accessibility
Digitisation has one primary purpose: to make our lives easier. This applies both in the workplace and to consumers, with machines, technologies, and online selling all intended to make the manufacturing and buying processes simpler and more streamlined.
Take, for example, online casinos. The gambling industry was one of the earliest to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the internet, and since providers first began moving their wares online, the value of the internet sector alone has soared to around £14.4 billion.
What this has not done is ruin local businesses, which continue to thrive. With around 150 brick-and-mortar casinos remaining in the country, online offerings have not replaced their more traditional counterparts, but rather complemented them, with the ease and accessibility of gaming online encouraging consumers in and giving them an initial taste of what’s available.
This often extends to playing in real-world environments, with those who find themselves a Mega Moolah slot winner after gaming online at a provider like Genesis Casino, for example, being encouraged to head down to their local casino when they next fancy playing in a more social setting.
The lesson that can be taken away from this is simple: that online and offline offerings must complement each other in order for digitisation to be a force for good in local economies.
Attracting a new audience
While digitisation can be beneficial for local businesses, we must acknowledge that this is not always the case. Netflix and other streaming services are a prime example. While they have undoubtedly made our lives easier, their impact on local video stores has been significant, with the closure of franchises like Blockbuster seeming to be a direct result.
The lesson to be taken from this is simple: businesses must be willing to move with the times. That’s because it’s not Netflix’s rise that caused Blockbuster’s fall, but rather the company’s own short-sightedness in not embracing digitisation when they had the chance.
Indeed, if they had done so, they would almost certainly have found that their audience increased – an education that smaller enterprises in areas like Teddington can apply.
What we mean by this is that the internet and its many opportunities should, in fact, be seen as a positive evolution for SMEs, one that can benefit them by making marketing more economical and effective and by helping them to grow their audience reach beyond the bounds of the local populace. Indeed, with the internet around to support their continued expansion, almost anything is possible.