The challenge of SMEs post-pandemic

Internet and social media usage skyrocketed during the pandemic. The average time spent on social networks per year is one hour and twenty-five minutes a day, according to IAB's 'Social Networks 2020' study. In 2021 this average rose to more than 2 hours according to Data Reportal's annual report, and while there are differences between generations, the growth was transversal: the common pattern indicates that we are all spending more time on social networks.

More than ever, companies are needing to understand their users and consumers. Until before the pandemic, there was a concept of user experience based on an otherworldly scenario. With the emergence of Covid19 that changed. More and more actions of daily life began to be managed through the online world.    

Home life promoted a huge leap in digital interaction, impacting lifestyle, consumption, and ways we relate to brands, products, and organizations. People spend more time in front of computer and mobile monitors. 

This also implies for companies – large and small – a new way of interacting with customers. In most cases it requires listening to them in a better way to rethink the customer experience, with digital as the most consolidated bridge. 

Driven by the Covid-19 isolation measures, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia –in that order– were the countries that grew the most in terms of electronic commerce between the period 2019 and 2020. While in the world e-commerce billed in 2020 27.6% more than the previous year, in Latin America that number is the highest compared by region reaching 36.7%. 

Although the exponential growth of consumption through digital platforms and channels was due to atypical conditions such as a pandemic, it managed to push different societies to a change in behavior that influenced a modification of habit, which is nothing more than the behavior learned through repetition. And this change of habits is here to stay.

This situation not only strengthened large companies but also required the SME sector to rethink -digitally- processes and sales channels to survive. 

It is essential that SMEs also adapt to new technological demands and user expectations. The response of companies must be in the monitoring of Internet data to be able to respond better to the new demands of e-consumers. 

It is estimated that external and unstructured data currently accounts for 80% of digital information on the Internet. This data comes from different sources, including online sites, social networks and other digital channels. 

According to Comscore, social media was one of the fields that experienced the most changes during this time of pandemic: it became the most frequented method of information and distraction. So much so that people spent 12% more of their time on Facebook, and 14% more on Instagram, to give some examples. People spend more time there, they find themselves conversing more through those channels, as well as consuming through digital transactions and opining on what they acquire. 

To face this change in people's habits, an SME also has to have analytical tools and monitor what consumers think, and consider themselves as organizations with a global reach to find followers and audiences beyond the local.

It is necessary to generate an adoption of data capture to be able to make the appropriate analysis, and for this to be possible SMEs currently require a series of accessible tools to do analytics. Companies need to start understanding what's going on and why it's happening. 

There are 3 key factors to surviving the complexity of today's world:

  • Customer Knowledge: Understand customer segments, their needs, their experience, and where the issues are in the sales funnel process.
  • Level of production or operations: to better understand demand, how much a product is going to be sold and observe seasonal factors or peaks. 
  • Environment: to analyze what is happening in social networks, news and the internet, which may affect the business and what external elements are impacting your business.