A new year brings a new opportunity to get your business back on track or start fresh with a clean slate. If you feel your business is lagging current technologies, then the best time to catch up is now.
What are your business growth strategies for the coming year? How do you plan to reach new customers, increase your income, leverage your time, curb your expenditures, and keep that all-important cash in your business?
Implementing new technology into your business may seem like a massive and difficult leap at first, but in the long run will save you time, energy, and money. Like most things, there’s a learning curve, but once that flattens and you get a handle on things, you’ll wonder why you didn’t leap sooner!
Here are nine technological tools that small to medium business owners should consider using today, or at least having on their radar. See how many you are already on top of and how many you may need to embrace to stay ahead in the coming year.
1. Cloud Computing
If you’re not operating in the cloud, you may be limiting your business. Cloud computing makes your business more scalable and agile and is a critical component to most businesses today. If your business data filing system is stretched, switching to the cloud can open endless possibilities. You may also find it’s a cheaper option.
2. Data Security
As data breaches are broadcast on mainstream news, customers have become more aware of how their information is stored and treated.
Whether you have ten clients or 10,000, If your business is collecting customer information (and you should be) you have a responsibility to manage that data privacy. One breach is all it takes to damage a business and it can be difficult to rebuild that trust.
With every new technology comes security risks, so ensure your business is well and truly covered from the onset from malware and breaches. Make it a priority to upgrade and maintain your tech security and train your staff on security protocol.
3. Digital customer (and team) communication
Your business can’t function without communication and connection and it’s more important than ever to find as many touchpoints—digital or otherwise—to communicate with your customers.
As faster internet connection rolls out across the country, you will need to keep up. The bottom line is, if you’re not able to connect with your customers where they are in any moment and at the speed they want, they will shop elsewhere.
Look inside your business too, for ways to build stronger and more enjoyable connections with your team. It’s not unusual today for small business owners to gift their team members a smartwatch as an integrated way to communicate, keep them on track and help them stay healthy, happy, and productive.
Chatbots are fast becoming a must-have customer service tool for small business. Customer’s don’t want to wait for an answer, and you don’t have time to answer their questions 24/7. How good would it be to have someone automatically responding to your customers while you and your staff are asleep? That’s what chatbots do.
Chatbots are most often found on websites but can also be implemented through social media and phone applications. Investing in chatbot technology can give you the edge over your competitor by giving your customers 24/7 support.
5. Mobile Applications
At the very least, you should have a website and at the very least that website needs to be mobile-friendly. Have you ever tried opening a business website on your mobile phone, only to be unable to read or navigate it? If that’s your website, then it’s time to update it so it works perfectly on every device. Otherwise, you will be kissing customers goodbye.
Mobile app development is the next step, but it’s not for every business, even though app developers may tell you it is. Some businesses are certainly well suited to having their mobile app, where others can do well to piggyback their products and services through larger national or international app platforms.
Research where your customers are shopping and invest in building your presence there, whether that’s through an online shop on Amazon or eBay or by going social and building your following on Instagram or Facebook.
6. Innovative Payment Methods
It makes sense that customers who shop online want to pay for their purchases online too. Increasing the number of avenues by which people can convert often results in increased sales. The more flexible you are with your payment options, the more competitive you will be. Your customers are quickly switching to innovative online payment options such as Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and, for B2B transactions, Bartercard.
Cashless trading systems like Bartercard give business owners the flexibility to do business on the go—locally, nationally, and globally—through their phone. Bartercard’s world-wide member network has tens of thousands of businesses keen to do cashless trading, which opens a whole new customer market.
7. 3D printing
3D printing may still feel like science fiction, but many businesses, small and large, are starting to invest in this technology. You can start small, making prototypes and samples and working up to developing entire product lines.
Instead of spending thousands on a product prototype, 3D printing makes easier, quicker, and cheaper to produce and develop as you go. 3D printing may also offer small businesses the means to scale and produce goods on demand at the same rate (and without the space confines) of larger companies.
It may be worth the investment now into 3D printing to bring yourself up to speed for the future.
The technology that makes Bitcoin transactions independently verifiable and instantaneous is now available for businesses too, with B2B currencies such as Qoin. Blockchain transactions work much faster than bank transactions, which can be appealing to both businesses and their customers.
When customers make a purchase, it cuts out the middleman—the banks! That means no transaction fees and no exchanges rates which opens global trading even more.
Having cash in your business is important and often critical to survival. Transactions through the blockchain can be in your account in hours, compared to the days it can take for credit card payments to be processed.
9. Virtual Reality
Many businesses have been fast on the uptake of virtual reality. As VR technology continues to advance, it will provide businesses with an impressive and unprecedented way to showcase their products.
Today businesses are using VR technology to enhance the customer experience making shopping easier and more enjoyable.
In the future, VR will help small businesses work remotely with their teams in more effective ways. VR will enhance the work from home experience and help cut down costs associated with managing an office and staff.
Let Bartercard help your business now and into the future
On the Bartercard mobile app, you can access a global network rich with tech-savvy businesses keen to help your business make the transition into the new technologies. Bartercard’s cashless trading platform is leading the way for businesses to continue trading successfully through tough times and beyond.
For more information on how Bartercard can work to build your business, contact us today.