If COVID-19 had a business lesson mixed in with all its tragedy, it is that businesses that cannot pivot and be flexible are going to suffer. While lockdowns, shutdowns, and government policies the world over have varied in effectiveness and execution, it remains true that many businesses that are still around are ones that have been able to use modern tech tools and features. Whether it is restaurants incorporating and building apps/websites with online menus to order food, adding delivery or curbside options (either independently or through delivery companies), or it is brick-and-mortar stores adapting to eCommerce instead of relying on foot traffic, there are many ways that companies have been forced to be flexible. Ultimately all these processes are facilitated by technology.
The digital era presents countless innovations, inventions, and tech advancements. Tech advances enable small business owners to work smoothly and conveniently. Technology is slowly and gradually changing the world as more businesses embrace it. It has become crucial for entrepreneurs to keep up with tech trends to avoid falling behind. Here are the top six technologies that every small business owner should consider.
A Mobile-Friendly Website
Reading this article online, the first thing you are likely thinking is “Duh! Of COURSE, you need a website! This is 2021!” Having a business website can seem obvious, but surprisingly, many small businesses do not have a website (less than 64% do). A website is a powerful marketing tool that businesses can use to reach out to customers within and outside their territory, and in the age of eCommerce, being able to grow your market and deliver products to customers outside of your typical area can be pivotal. In short, a website enables a business to cover extensive ground in terms of promotion and marketing. New customers first check out a brand’s webpage or website before deciding to commit their money to it. Mobile browsing has overtaken the use of desktops due to its convenience. Therefore, businesses should consider designing mobile-friendly websites and supplementing their marketing with the next entry on this list.
Technology has slowly evolved social media into the most effective tool for business communication. Large and small businesses alike can use social media for marketing their products and services. You can also use it to receive customer feedback and remain in touch with them. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are great for meeting new customers and converting them into sales. It is easier to find loyal customers on social media than on any other marketing platform. Beyond that, many of these social media sites offer catered tools to make it easier for you to interact with customers, find new business, and advertise your products while measuring your reach.
People are spending more time online during the COVID-19 pandemic than they were in previous year, and social media sites are a nexus of their online traffic and attention. These sites cannot fully replace your website, however. Start with your website, then use social media to funnel web traffic to your products and services.
Walking to a store and discovering that your preferred payment method is unavailable can be frustrating. That can not only taint a brand’s reputation but lead to a sales decline. The last thing a small business owner would do is turning down a customer due to the unavailability of a preferred payment option. Tech-savvy customers are opting for the most convenient payment options for themselves. So, businesses should have a flexible payment process that lets customers choose their desired payment option. Online payment gateway and credit card terminals are the most common payment options nowadays. In the age of COVID, contactless payment methods will also reassure conscientious buyers. Card transaction fees are a frustrating obstacle for businesses, however especially when people are now paying almost exclusively with cards. Opening yourself up to online transactions and taking payment methods like PayPal, Venmo, or any of the others opens you up to new revenue.
Shipping and Tracking Tools
Brick and mortar businesses have been hit hard lately, and it’s no wonder with government shutdowns, supply chain breakdowns, and a global pandemic running about. Foot traffic is low. Being able to move your product using eCommerce tools on your website could be the life or death of your revenue stream. There are multiple online marketplace tools available, and most website creation suites incorporate these into their design templates. On top of that, having a proof of delivery app can mean peace of mind for you and your customers. People are having products shipped to their doors more than ever before, and being able to track your orders down to where the truck is at any given time offers you peace of mind from a loss prevention standpoint, as well as creating a way to help your customers feel empowered as well.
Business success is all about building relationships, and the way a business builds on its relationships can determine its growth rate. CRM is a cloud-based software program that businesses can use to improve their lead conversion and customer retention and reduce marketing costs. Business owners should try out several CRM software programs before deciding the most suitable one for their business.
Customers are nowadays using the internet to find nearby businesses and services. Localizing your web presence can help a business maximize its brand image online. Some reliable localization tools include Yelp, Yellow Pages, and social media. Businesses must enter their contact details, address, and business type to make the most out of these platforms. Also, include the services and products the business deals with and how potential customers can reach your business. The more information you are, the better you can stand out to the customers who seek your services.
Businesses without these tools are likely to lag behind competitors who keep up with tech trends. There are a lot of technology options that small businesses can adapt to maximize their growth, and this list only scratches the surface. Proper implementation of these and other technologies can streamline and transform small businesses and ensure they do not fall behind. Better yet, these tools will continue to be relevant even after COVID-19 is an unpleasant memory. You owe it yourself because of the work you put into your business to consider these if you haven’t already.