We live in a golden age for small businesses, where all the tools and resources you could need are available at a single tap. It can, however, be hard to know which tools to select, especially when it comes to tech. It’s easy to be confused by all the options, which makes it hard to know where to put your money. As always, we are here to help. Below are five trends in small business tech that you will not regret investing in.
Mobile has become such an ingrained part of everyday life that it can hardly be called a trend anymore. Still, many small businesses fail to see just how powerful mobile tech can be. Did you know, for example, that mobile ads have 10 times the redemption rate of other online coupons and 3 times the click rate? Optimizing your website, ads, and email campaigns for mobile will bring you closer to your consumers and make them more likely to make a purchase.
Mobile technology can also be leveraged on the operations side. According to CNBC, small businesses save an average of 5.6 hours a week by using mobile apps. These range from communication tools to time-tracking apps, bookkeeping tech, and more.
If you sell a physical product online, you will already be familiar with how confusing shipping can be. It’s essential that your customers get their orders fast and without hassle, but this can be a nightmare to plan on your end, especially if you are just starting out.
Shipping automation takes all the manual work out of the equation so you can focus on what you do best. FitSmallBusiness ranks ShippingEasy as the best overall option for small businesses, with ShipStation being better for high volume and truck freight shipping and Ordero being best for more complex inventory.
If you aren’t currently in e-commerce but would like an additional revenue stream, you can consider adding dropshipping to your business. This model ships products directly from a third-party inventory to your customer, so you hold no physical stock at all; This works particularly well if you have products that complement your current offerings, such as accessories, books, or gadgets.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that encompasses the shift to devices connected to the internet, from home assistants to WiFi-enabled cars and appliances. Although this has mostly happened in the home, businesses can also make use of this trend. According to Forbes, popular business applications for IoT include the use of virtual assistants, sensors that can quickly identify equipment faults, and saving money with smart controls for light and energy.
If you have invested in any tech, chances are it is cloud storage: indeed, 92 percent of small and medium businesses are using at least one form of it. The cloud can save you money, protect your data, and make it easier to find and access the information you need.
For those who have not yet taken the leap — or for those looking to upgrade their cloud storage — it is important to choose carefully. The best solution for you will depend on your needs. For instance, Google Drive is a great efficiency and collaboration tool, but pCloud is perfect for small startups who need the option to scale at their own pace.
On the opposite end of cloud computing, software integration is woefully underutilized by small businesses. This form of integration allows your various apps to work seamlessly, reducing redundancy and boosting productivity. For example, if you have invested in CRM software, you will not be making the most of it until you integrate with other tools like your social media, email, and accounting software. Trends can be fickle, so well-proven ones like the above are what you should be focusing on. That said, do keep an ear to the ground: what are other companies using? Which new tech could be revolutionary? Basics like mobile and the cloud give you a good foundation, but fully embracing the power of new tech is what will help you get an edge on the competition