One of the most important decisions small business leaders need to make for 2019 involves spending. How will next year’s budget be spent? Investing in the right technology can help your business stay competitive and result in improved productivity and profitability. So, which technologies should you invest in for 2019?
Your website, your business card to the world
A solid SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy will get your business found on the web and attract new customers. As mobile usage continues to increase, it’s increasingly important to have a mobile-responsive website. A well-designed, mobile-friendly website will engage visitors and create a memorable experience which results in returning customers. Added features such as favourites lists, easy re-ordering, and detailed item descriptions with multiple product images will further enhance the user experience and drive customer retention.
Be prepared with hardware
Replacing physical devices such as laptops, desktops, and mobile isn’t often thought about until one of those devices fails. But at that point, you’re losing productivity until replacements arrive. In 2019, be proactive about upgrading your hardware. Keep in mind that older, slower devices can also affect productivity without it being obvious. Those older devices may do the job now but how much faster could your team be processing orders, creating new marketing campaigns, or delivering information to customers when equipped with more efficient hardware?
A speedy way to pay
Cash flow is always a priority for small businesses. The speed of getting paid by customers impacts cash flow in a big way. Electronic invoicing is one way to get paid faster. E-invoicing tools can issue invoices to customers and include a “pay now” button. Customers then make payment directly from their electronic invoice. Your customers save time, and you get paid faster.
"As mobile usage continues to increase, it’s increasingly important to have a mobile-responsive website. A well-designed, mobile-friendly website will engage visitors and create a memorable experience which results in returning customers."
Aided by automation
Automating manual, repetitive tasks can free up your team to work on revenue-generating activities. Look for areas of the business that are being slowed down by manual actions and prioritise where you can make the biggest gains with automation. Productivity increases, reductions in manual errors, and removing bottlenecks are just the start of the benefits to be gained through automation.
Improve customer relationships with CRM
The cost of acquiring new customers is significantly higher than retaining existing customers. Boost your retention rates by providing an excellent, consistent customer experience from across the business. With a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, your whole team logs and tracks all customer interactions as they happen. Having a clear view of those interactions enables you to understand customers’ needs and priorities. It also ensures customers receive a consistent message, regardless of whom they speak with – and that builds trust and improves the experience, which keeps them coming back. Learn more about how CRM can help you build strong customer relationships and provide value that turns customers into repeat customers - detailed in your free business guide, the CRM Eureka Moment.
The necessary paper cut
Dealing with manual processing of paper-based documents is a fast way to slow down your business. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) lets you send and receive electronic documents with suppliers and customers. Orders, invoices, shipping documents, acknowledgements, and other trading documents can all be made electronic. With EDI, you can reduce manual processing errors, increase the speed of processing, reduce operating costs, and improve relationships with business partners.
"With a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, your whole team logs and tracks all customer interactions as they happen. Having a clear view of those interactions enables you to understand customers’ needs and priorities."
Small businesses often end up with a patchwork of separate systems – one for finance, another for sales, another for inventory, and so on. Integrating your systems lets you share data between systems and leverage single-source data. Static spreadsheets are no longer sent around with manual additions that cause splintered data. When using integrated systems, reporting becomes faster and more reliable. You gain a clear view of performance across the company to make informed, agile business decisions. Integrated technologies such as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system provide a single platform for all core business functions which brings your business together.
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