Must-Have Technology for Small Businesses
The world of business today is very different from what it used to look like back in 2000. Technology has infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives…and, not surprisingly, business as well. In fact, the pandemic has accelerated everything we have ever known about running a business.
It’s a good thing, of course. Technology streamlines and simplifies everyday tasks and takes business owners on a journey that many of us could have only imagined before. Management information systems, customer service, customer relationship management, digital transformation, financial technology…they’ve all saved us time, energy and money.
So, the question is this: Are you harnessing the full power of these new digital technologies for your business?
What kind of digital tools do we want to start investing in or experiment with? Here are a couple to think about.
Customer Relationship Management
Regardless of the kind of business you run, be it B2B or B2C, maintaining a good relationship with your customers will always top the list of priorities. They are, after all, the bottom line of your business.
You should harness every possible opportunity to digitize this part of your business so that you can better serve your customers and answer their queries as and when they arise. By having an eye on potential leads, especially hot leads, you can better convert them into paying clients; and if they’re already your clients, you can retain them and prevent them from jumping ship.
This means using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool to manage your business customer relationships.
These are cloud-based software that catches potential leads, communicates with them, and helps you respond to your customers in a proper and timely manner. When used correctly, CRM enhances business growth, improves conversion, enhances lead captures, and decreases the cost of marketing and retargeting efforts.
Some of the most popular CRM tools out in the market at the point of writing are Monday, Pipedrive, Salesforce, Oracle Netsuite, Zoho, and many more.
Online Payment Processing and Acceptance
We’re not just talking about accepting payments on your eCommerce website, POS, or even when you’re shopping for stuff online in marketplaces like Shopee, Grab, or Alibaba.
Payment processing has become so critical, invariably goaded into acceleration by the COVID pandemic, that being able to accept payments online can make or break your business. If at first it was a luxury, it is now a necessity.
First of all, we’re doing business with people from all over the world. We have to make payments as easy as possible. That is why offering your customers diverse payment options could tip the bucket, benefiting your competitors who may already have such payment methods in place.
There really is no excuse (good enough to a frustrated customer) not to have at least one type of payment gateway enabled. After all, digital finance platforms like INFT have been on the rise of late and the options are endlessly attractive.
No Compromise on Having a Secure and Safe Website and App
We practically live with everything important to us in our back pockets. Digital tools and apps like calendars, online conferencing and messaging tools, productivity tools…all the way to games and eWallets live on in our smartphones. It's hard to deny the fact that it has made our lives much easier.
But they also invite threats.
Cybersecurity used to be a major concern for large organisations like banks, government portals, and especially websites that hold a lot of private information about their users. Today, cybersecurity concerns every business owner. If your business collects personal information, receives and makes payments online, or stores personal information about your employees online, they should be protected at all costs.
So, if there’s anything you should invest in this year, it should be a good security system.
Project Management Tools
If we rewind three decades back, the standard tool we have for managing our time, projects, budget, meetings, and even travel itinerary is jotted down in a single book - the proverbial diary or organiser.
Now, with the advent of so many free and paid online project management tools, it’s time to move on with the times.
These online project management tools will keep you on track with various project deliverables and track deadlines by issuing us timely reminders. All of this will present itself in the form of better teamwork, transparency, project success rate, and client satisfaction.
Most of us, especially managers of teams, are juggling multiple projects and meeting with different people to get things done. And it can be tricky.
Try tools like Trello, Asana, Zoho Projects, Monday.com, Wrike and others to get a feel of how they work for you. For messaging, try out apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, Discord, or Lark.
Inventory Management Software and Tools
We’ve seen how disruptions to the supply chain have deeply affected consumers in 2021 and 2022. The problem arose because many were not prepared for how global catch-22s can so severely impact the supply chain.
So, if your business sells products, inventory tracking should be a leading concern for you. We know you want to make sure you have enough goods to meet consumer demand but are you overstocking?
Investing in inventory management software can help you improve data analytics, streamline operational workflows, and present you with a more transparent reporting system. It’s far easier to scale once you have a clear overview of what you have in stock and what you don’t.
Engaging With Your Customers on Social Media
No, we’re not talking about posting food pictures on Instagram or doing dance videos on TikTok.
These social media platforms have become so valuable for businesses because it is a paramount point of contact between you and your customers. It’s an extremely effective marketing communication tool for small businesses.
Not only will you be able to attract new customers online through your posts, stories, ads, or boosted content, you can use these social media platforms for announcements to convert fence-sitters into hot leads.
Depending on the kind of small business you’re running, consider nurturing the relationship with your customers via social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, TikTok, and, of course, Facebook.
You don’t have to get on every platform mentioned above. Focus on one or two networks that can reach your customer demographic.
The meaning of digital transformation is different for every business. Investing time, energy, and effort into an information system is no longer a luxury or something you do perchance. Technology = business agility, flexibility, adaptability, and success.
The same goes for investing in a good digital financial accounting system and tool. INFT is one good example.
It’s time to merge the old-school method of managing your finances with new-tech financial accounting systems.
It’s time to merge the old-school method of managing your finances with new-tech ways of managing your company’s affairs. Signing up for a short-term loan, using a digital business account, creating virtual VISA cards for your teams, issuing digital invoices, receiving and making payments online to anyone anywhere…are now becoming the norm.
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