This is a guest post by Gloria Martinez. I think it strikes a lot of keys for people selling online
Is your small business stuck in the Stone Age due to budgetary constraints? Staying low-tech might seem like the frugal approach, but the truth is, failing to invest in your business costs more money than it saves. Technology is critical to small business efficiency, and without it, you’ll find your business lagging behind the competition.
Tech Challenges Facing Small Business
Cost is by far the biggest challenge when it comes to small business technology. However, it’s not just the cost of the product, but also the cost of implementing it. Migrating data and training staff on new systems is time-consuming. For small businesses with lean operations, it’s hard to find the wiggle room needed to mix things up.
Despite the short-term spike in operational demands, technology is one of the key ways that small business owners can reduce overhead and make their business more productive, efficient, and profitable.
Technology to Shrink Small Business Overhead
A small investment in business technology saves serious money over time. The simplest way to cut costs using technology is by automating tedious tasks such as bookkeeping with software. Inputting data into spreadsheets is labor-intensive, but the right apps eliminate the need for manual data entry. If you’re selling products, look for a solution that allows you to integrate accounting with inventory management.
New technology can also help your team communicate and collaborate, leading to greater productivity and allowing you to easily see what people are working on (or who isn’t pulling their weight). There’s a variety of project management tools useful to small businesses, whether your team is working remotely or all under the same roof.
Speaking of remote work: Eliminating the office leads to major savings in overhead costs, but you can’t just send your staff home without the tools to work together. Whether you have a fully remote team or just hire a few remote workers, video conferencing, digital file management, and communication tools are the key to a cohesive team.
There’s one more type of software that’s worthwhile, no matter how small your business is: customer management tools (via Software Advice).
You can’t succeed in business if you don’t keep your customers happy, and shoppers are more willing than ever to drop a business if they don’t meet customer service expectations. The right customer relationship management and customer support software helps you manage leads and turn first-time shoppers into loyal customers.
Leveraging Technology to Increase Revenue
Technology can do more than save money. It can also grow your business’s revenue. Utilizing digital technology can help small businesses reach new customers and expand their selection without major brick-and-mortar investments. Selling on Amazon is a classic example: By listing products on Amazon, small businesses benefit from the e-commerce giant’s reach. And when businesses utilize Fulfillment by Amazon, those extra sales don’t strain business operations.
If the cost of selling on Amazon is too high — or you want to expand your sales further — consider dropshipping as a second business. All it takes to start a dropshipping business is an ecommerce website. Since you’re not storing your own inventory, no physical space is needed. Dropshipping could dovetail nicely if you’re already selling products online and want to expand your offerings with in-demand gadgets, games, accessories, or other trending products.
Most small businesses don’t have the capacity to make these upgrades at once. If you’re ready to add efficiency to your small business, start by assessing the bottlenecks in your workflow. Once you’ve found the sticking points, read reviews, talk to industry peers, and take advantage of trial periods to identify the right technology solutions for your small business needs.
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