Technology has allowed entrepreneurs to flourish, leading to a major surge in start-ups across the globe. According to a two-decade-long study by GEM, entrepreneurship has exploded in recent years. To give you an idea on the scale of this growth, thousands of small businesses start in the U.S. every single year, showing that with technology comes great opportunity.
This holds especially true for those working in the ecommerce industry. The innovations and technologies available now will be especially helpful for those managing digital retail businesses. After all, a surge in the popularity of internet usage and mobile apps has been the major driving force behind the growth in ecommerce in recent years, and the opportunities to use technology for growth are still as prevalent today as they were when the industry first boomed.
Many ecommerce businesses use technology in a variety of ways based on the size and the target market they work in. Profitability is one main reason for this adaption. Although technology can sometimes be a significant investment, it normally pays off in the long run. In 2014, a published survey found that mobile technology alone saved businesses more than $65 Billion a year.
For those looking to integrate more tech into their business, the question now becomes, what technology should you use to save money, increase profitability, and improve the value offered to your clients? On top of that, how should you go about fully integrating this into your ecommerce business strategy? Read on for a comprehensive guide on how to fully, and effectively, utilize technology to put yourself ahead of the competition.
Easy-to-Use Mobile Apps
Smartphones are today’s go-to technology for quick and easy internet access and a way to manage many other aspects of life, including your business. What’s amazing about mobile technology is that you can run most, if not all, of your business directly from your phone. This is especially useful for on-the-go ecommerce entrepreneurs. Even while traveling from place to place or balancing work and busy life, mobile tech might just provide you with the tools you need to be fully productive.
So, what apps should you consider using to aid you in running your ecommerce business? There are a lot of great options available that will save you time and money:
Handling most of your finances through accounting and business management apps not only saves you time, but also loads of money. Webgility offers accounting automation for ecommerce businesses, along with a variety of other benefits that allow you to track certain business expenses, as well as manage inventory and payments.
Staying on top of finances can save you money by not having to hire extra employees to do this work for you, and because accounting platforms are low-cost, they will inevitably save you more money in the long run. At the end of the day, you can never go wrong with investing in ecommerce accounting software for your business.
Online Banking Apps
One of the most innovative aspects of the financial service industry today is that many are going digital. In some cases, banks are even operating without a brick-and-mortar location! Instead of having to drive to your bank to cash a check or transfer funds to your savings account, you can take out your phone and do it all with one tap of a button. There are a variety of options available for both business and personal banking apps.
When it comes to managing your finances for your business, a digital banking app for business gives you both instant access to your finances and notifications whenever you make purchases or receive payments. They can also easily connect with other apps such as the financial management and payment apps mentioned previously.
Many mobile banks also offer special incentives that brick-and-mortar banks don’t, such as non-existent fees, and allow you to allocate your money to your own business instead of bank fees. On top of this, if you decide to use an online banking platform for personal use, some will allow you to get paid ahead of time, so you can receive paychecks from your ecommerce business up to two days earlier than usual!
Having apps on both your laptop and your phone for communication are essential for staying in touch with the people you work with. Apps like Slack, Google Chat, and even Skype are all commonly used options. Most of these platforms offer free versions and can provide significant relief in your budget. By downloading these on your smart device, you can access a number of opportunities to instant message with others even while on a call, in a meeting, and when you’re away from the rest of your team momentarily.
These platforms are crucial in developing your ecommerce business, as emergencies can pop-up at any time. You want to make sure you are ready to confront whatever questions and problems arise quickly. Not to mention, quick and efficient communication is essential to any successful business.
Communication apps provide more than just communication between employees. There are also a lot of platforms that allow for direct communication between your customer support team and the customer. As opposed to using email or forms for receiving customer feedback and assistance, your team will be able to quickly respond to any complaints that come in and handle them in a timely manner.
Time Management & Productivity
Tracking your time as well as your employee’s time can help you understand where your resources are being allocated and if there are any changes that need to be made. If, for example, you feel that you are not seeing results that you think you should, it may be time to check out where all of your time is being spent and redistribute it to other, more productive tasks. This is where time tracking, and project management apps come into play.
While there are a variety of options, common features include ways for employees to log their hours by task, as well as manage time schedules, calendars and reminders. This can help keep you on track and not waste too much time on low priority projects and allows you to spend more time on the important to-dos.
Powerfully Advantageous Software
Another byproduct of the internet becoming more powerful is the amount of software available, which allows users to become more effective and internet savvy. Software may be one of the most important upgrades you can make to your business because it may afford you new opportunities you didn’t have previously. However, software can get very pricey, so you have to know where to look and be sure that you don’t get sold on something that won’t actually be profitable for your business. Here are some possibilities:
Open-source software can be free or really cheap
Put simply, open-source software is any software distributed with its source code available to the public. There are many advantages to open source software, one being their low cost. This downloadable will come cheap, and at times free, which permits you to allocate money that you would have spent on that software to other places. This can sometimes open up other opportunities for your business to grow! It also allows you to test out different types of software and how they will impact your business in an inexpensive manner.
It can be difficult choosing the appropriate tools to make your company more profitable, so the ability to test what works and what doesn’t is a huge plus. There are also many opportunities for open-source software to improve, which means that either you can change and modify it to your own liking or at the very least, leave suggestions to the creators to have them update it as needed.
Cloud services introduce new opportunities
Going paperless is becoming more important to businesses, to save both the environment and money; not to mention it makes your brand look good because you are “going green.” Cloud services simply move all of your data and forms to an online database, where there exists more space and freedom to access that database from anywhere and by anyone of your choosing. Using the cloud, such as Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive or Dropbox, provides more than just saving you space, such as:
- The flexibility of access from anywhere at any time and by anyone you grant access to
- The ability to recover your files should a disaster or emergency strike
- Increased security due to software updates and platforms to guard your information against unwanted eyes
- A decrease in expenditures because it eliminates the need for expensive hardware
These are just some of the valuable opportunities provided through different cloud service providers. Take advantage of them to keep your business’ tech strategy secure and easily accessible from anywhere.
Payment processing streamlines the shopping cart
Ecommerce websites need to constantly provide quick and efficient services to their customers to keep up with consumer trends. This is especially important in the shopping cart phase of the buying process. Once customers have added items to their cart, how easily they’re able to go from that step to paying and completing the order can make the difference between a sale and an abandoned shopping cart.
Knowing how crucial this process is for businesses, it’s vital to have a quality payment processing system in place to get customers to complete their shopping experience. If the customer doesn’t feel secure filling in their credit card information, chances are they will be unlikely to complete their purchase. Therefore, you should find a payment processing service that is secure and easy to use.
One example of this is PayPal, which is incredibly popular due to its ease of use and security. In fact, it is best to give your customers a range of options when it comes to payment processing so individuals have a variety of options available to them for how they can make a payment. Mobile wallets and smartphone compatible credit cards highlight the growing relationship between technology and payment processing.
Finally, if your ecommerce store offers subscription services or recurring payments, make sure your payment processing service offers automatic billing for customers. This can help guarantee that payments are met every month and makes it easier for customers to opt into a regular subscription with your business, helping foster long term relationships between your business and customers.
With new technology being created every day, and businesses finding new and innovative ways to integrate it into their strategy, ensure that your ecommerce business is paying attention to the industry. By staying on top of changes and trends, as well as using the technology available to you, such as accounting automation services, mobile apps, and business management software, your business will be sure to thrive in an ever-changing landscape!