How today’s digital age is shaping Australian small business


Gone are the days when consumers are happy to wait a week for a product to arrive, waiting for ‘business hours’ to place an order or when a client will write you a cheque for services rendered.

Today’s digital age and time-poor modern lifestyles mean everyone has become accustomed to immediacy – we want to skip the cafe queue by pre-ordering a coffee, have our new shoes delivered overnight and be able to pay for them simply, immediately and safely.

For small business, a change in attitude and offering is essential to cater to the rapidly-shifting demands of their customers. Part of this is adopting new technology – and doing it fast – and being two steps ahead of this frenetic new consumerism model.

Blame it on the tech

The speed at which life now moves and the conveniences we have become accustomed to are almost wholly caused by huge advances in technology. Whether that’s fast-loading online platforms to shop (if it takes more than milliseconds, we’re outta there), book and check in for flights or pay bills, or social media to offer an endless stream of information.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, says tech expert and speaker Andrew Jones from G2 Innovation.

“The speed and pace of change has never been as fast as it is today in our human experience,” he tells SmartCompany. “The other way of looking at it is that the speed and pace of change is never going to be as slow as it is today. So if we think it is fast now, then just wait until tomorrow and the day after.”

He says some companies are adapting very quickly to the new demand for convenient service, and small business needs to pay attention.

Find out how NAB’s faster, simpler and smarter payments* can make your customers’ and suppliers’ lives easier 

The rise and rise of the smartphone

The humble mobile phone has grown a significant ego over the past 10 years, with increasing numbers of consumers using their smartphone to shop online, both locally and globally.

It’s hand-held convenience at its best. You can not only now check your emails or film a live Facebook video, you can create a birthday party invitation, book theatre tickets and research a luxury villa in Bali.

Apps for food delivery companies including Uber Eats, Menulog and Deliveroo among many others allow seamless ordering, quick payment and speedy delivery in the takeaway food revolution.

Jones says mobile is everything to consumers, and small business owners need to target their tech to make convenience a number one priority.

“I think we have just hit that peak where most searches are done on a mobile device more than any other and we are seeing the same with purchasing – more and more purchases are being done on mobile devices,” he says.

“With the higher value items, people still want to go back to a bigger screen so it is done on the laptop or desktop. You can understand that but that will change in time. But as a minimum every site should be mobile-enabled, it’s a bit of a no-brainer.”

Faster, simpler and smarter payments

 The introduction of smartphone and tablet card readers has also changed the game for mobile small business too – plumbers, mobile dog wash businesses, gardeners and the like can now collect payments on site.

For small businesses dealing with suppliers and customers, banking apps can make payments quick and easy. Create and share an easy-to-remember PayID instead of BSB and account number to make getting paid easier. Your PayID is your business’ unique identifier for receiving fast payments. It can be your business mobile number, email address or ABN. And, with fast payments, your business can pay suppliers within 60 seconds in most cases – and receive payments just as quickly.

Let everyone eat couture cake

Convenience is now also expected for items that can take some time to prepare – such as bespoke and couture cakes.

Orlando Sanpo, Co-Founder of designer cupcakery and cake studio Vanoir, says the same kind of services or conveniences are now ‘normal’ from his clients.

“Same day delivery, same day orders or online shopping with delivery service are the most common,” he says.

This can be tricky when clients, who are often influenced by designs spotted on social media, want something similar – now.

“We always need to balance expectations to ensure that a fast turnaround does not compromise the quality of our product,” he says. “For example, a client may take inspiration from what they see on social media and come to us wanting something similar within 24 hours.”

However, the company has changed its processes to accommodate for customers’ must-have-it-now expectations.

“We have modified some systems in our baking and production that provide us with options that can be done within 24 hours’ notice,” he explains. “Some of our designs are also ready to be purchased online instantly.”

*Fast payments and PayID are available within a class of products issued by National Australia Bank Ltd ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL 230686 (NAB). Any advice contained in this article has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any advice in this article, NAB recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and that you review the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Terms and Conditions


nab bank

For 160 years, NAB has been helping our customers with their money. Today, we have more than 30,000 people serving nine million customers at more than 900 locations in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. As Australia’s biggest business lender*, we work with small, medium and large businesses to help them start, run and grow. We fund some of the most important infrastructure in our communities – including schools, hospitals and roads. And we do it in a way that’s responsible, inclusive and innovative. We’re more than bankers; we’re backers. We back people, businesses, and communities to grow, to change, and to move Australia forward. *NAB is Australia’s Biggest Business Bank according to Monthly Banking Statistics lending data (non-financial corporations) published by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority as at January 2020.

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