After a period in which offices were closed and businesses were isolated from their customers, small businesses are gently returning to offices, shop fronts and places of work across Australia.
The situation remains complex, however, and nobody knows quite what the coming weeks and months have in store. In the face of what remains an extraordinary challenge, small businesses must seek ways to streamline and empower their business.
Technology today is more accessible and affordable than ever before and can help small businesses work smarter in the new financial year. Here are a few options:
If you’ve not yet invested in good cloud accounting software, why not make it a new (financial) year’s resolution? Having your back-end processes streamlined is a massive time-saver.
Especially now, when a lot of time is being spent on front of house operations and ensuring you are meeting the needs of your customers and staff in a safe way.
If you’re in retail, for example, your cloud accounting platform can be set up to integrate seamlessly with your point of sale so you’ll no longer have to worry about accounting errors and manual data entry.
Keeping track of your staff and their schedules on a paper calendar can be complicated. Employee management software that lets you manage schedules, track time and set permissions straight from your mobile device makes everyone’s lives easier.
Some platforms also enable you to manage multiple employees across different locations, which is useful today if you’re managing staff remotely to reduce the number of people at any given location.
If you run a hospitality business, chances are you’ve shifted more of your business online recently. Make sure your online ordering system has the options you need to keep your customers safe and happy.
Adding the ability for customers to choose between in-store or curbside pickup is a great way to do this. Square’s e-commerce solution has a self-managed contactless delivery option for those businesses who would prefer to run their own service, rather pay the order ahead app fees.
With the return of in-person dining has come a range of rules that restaurants and cafes must follow to ensure the health and safety of customers. Restricting the number of customers in your space at any given time will be challenging, so why not give customers the option to book?
There are many free and low-cost options for setting up an easy online booking page that integrates with your website, so you can take your customers’ details ahead of time and communicate with them through text and email reminders.
If your small business is retail-focused, an online presence is likely a key channel. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to online selling – what works for one business won’t necessarily work for another.
So, if you don’t want to invest all your time and resources into an immersive online experience, there are still plenty of options for retailers when it comes to easy and safe online payment solutions.
Try an online payment portal or checkout so you don’t have to worry about redirecting customers to a website. This enables you to generate a unique checkout link that you can add to emails or social media posts for specific products, allowing customers to pay you instantly online.
Contactless card reader
As cash continues to decline, and customers shift towards options that follow social distancing guidelines, contactless payments are a must for any business right now.
Outside of e-commerce and online payment portals, if you have a brick-and-mortar store, or interact with customers face-to-face, make sure you have a mobile card reader that accepts all types of payments – including mobile options like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
E-invoicing apps can help get you paid up to 80 per cent faster than traditional processes like formatting an invoice in Excel or emailing a PDF attachment.
So if you’re a tradesperson or a graphic designer, for example, with online invoicing tools you can send e-invoices straight from your phone or tablet, wherever you are.
Specialised e-invoicing apps also enable customers to pay you instantly and securely straight from the invoice, so they don’t have to worry about logging into separate banking apps.
Businesses rely heavily on their sales data to make important decisions about everything, from marketing strategies to inventory and staffing needs. That’s why it’s important to have good analytics tools that integrate with your payments system so you can easily pull insightful data.
Data tools that enable you to see historical sales reports, your busiest times of the day or week or year, and what returning customers are purchasing, will be the most helpful for making smarter business decisions as you get back on track in the new financial year.
Colin Birney is the Head of Business Development for Square Australia, which helps sellers run their business – from contactless EFTPOS machines, to secure credit card processing and building online stores.