5 Technologies to Build Your Business
Technology is an important tool that’s leveling the playing field for small business owners who compete head to head against big, traditional stores every day. If used correctly, technology can help a small businesses exceed their customers’ expectations, even surpassing those reserved for bigger companies they are competing with.
Equipped with a mobile device and a few key apps, today’s small businesses can share the day’s specials, process orders, manage payroll and much more. These new tools are available for one or more mobile environments, IOS, Android, Windows and even Blackberry. They are reasonably priced, simple to use and make it easier than ever to compete with huge corporations.
Here are a few ways to use new technologies to help increase profits and stay ahead of rivals.
Move your business to the cloud.
Many small-service companies still juggle a combination of paper, spreadsheets and calendars to organize their front-office management tasks. This antiquated system can present many problems, everything from searching for documents in filing cabinets to sharing information. Incorporating cloud services can help alleviate many of these stresses.
There is an extensive range of affordable cloud-based and mobile tools specially designed to manage the entire customer experience. For example, the app “Front Desk” helps personal-service companies’ with their customer management and scheduling functions. Another app called “Jobber” can assist field-service businesses with quotes and routes. My last example is an app called “Style Seat”, which is a platform that provides personal-care businesses services like emails.
Stop using pricy point-of-sale (POS) solutions.
Mobile devices with free or premium apps can now replace full featured POS systems, letting small retailers accept more than just cash. For example, everyone from your local deli to your gardener can use the card reader accessory on their Android or iOS device to accept credit or debit cards.
Small retailers that want to cater to both online and physical shoppers can use “Shopify’s” POS which syncs customers and sales made online and in the retail location. Finally, “Financeit” lets small businesses offer monthly-payment plans for big ticket items, like high end consumer goods and home improvement projects.
Offer a loyalty and rewards programs.
It pays to invest in customer loyalty since a repeat customer has a higher lifetime value than a new customer. Only big corporations had the resources to offer extravagant loyalty rewards programs in the past, while small businesses were left handing out paper vouchers that would be lost or damaged before being used. Smaller merchants can now check out loyalty programs like “FiveStars”, which allows a business owner to create modern mobile loyalty and digital card programs at an affordable price.
Use inexpensive tools for backend productivity.
Traditional accounting and HR software used to be expensive and require technical infrastructure. However, now business owners can take advantage of easily deployed cloud apps to run efficiently with their limited resources. Developers have created useful tools that address specific needs, including “Fresh Books” or “Wave Accounting” for invoicing and accounting, “Shifthub” for workforce management and “Intercom” for customer care and user on-boarding.
Take advantage of marketing and sales plug-ins.
Small businesses can turn their basic Gmail service into something even more potent by adding a simple plug-in app. For instance, using “Streak” turns Gmail into a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. This type of plugin, allows businesses to manage, active leads, deals and sales opportunities from the inbox. Other sales plugins include contact profiler “Rapportive”, email tracker “Yesware” and scheduling/reminder tool “Boomerang”.