If you’re looking to take your business to the next level in 2018, January is the time to get your operations sorted.
Putting the right technology in place is critical to streamlining your business processes and providing a better experience for your employees and customers. Having software that helps you work more efficiently also means you’re left with more time to focus on value and growth.
Here are 10 tools you should be investing in this year:
1. Contactless card and mobile payments reader
The data is undeniable — cash-only businesses won’t cut it for much longer. Australians only carry $55 in their wallets on average, and they top up their funds at an ATM less than once a week. It’s now 2018 and almost everyone has contactless cards, which means you need a point of sale that can accept them instantly wherever you are.
When looking at contactless solutions, make sure you get one that also accepts mobile payments (like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay). Mobile payments are the fastest, most convenient, and secure way to pay. Square has two options available for businesses — our Square Reader for chip cards ($19, enabling you to accept chip and magstripe cards) and the Square Reader for contactless and chip ($59, enabling you to accept tap-and-go cards, mobile wallets and chip cards).
2. Mobile-optimised website
These days, no one has patience for a website that’s not optimised for mobile. If yours doesn’t work seamlessly on all devices, it’s likely you’re losing customers. It should be as simple as possible for customers to browse items, add them to the cart, and then check out on their mobile devices.
3. E-invoicing tools
Businesses that are enabled to send invoices on the spot, as soon as the work is complete, save valuable time after hours. E-invoicing tools and apps can get paid up to 80 per cent faster when compared to traditional processes (such as calculating and formatting an invoice in Excel).
Square Invoices enables you to send unlimited e-invoices from the Square Point of Sale App for free, and your customers can then select to pay you quickly and securely online with the click of a button.
4. Business intelligence and analytics tools
Smart small businesses will heavily rely on data and analytics to make important decisions about everything from marketing strategies to staffing. Adopting great analytics tools that can integrate with your payment transaction data will help with valuable insights: things like historical sales reports, your busiest times of the day, and how many new or returning customers you’re bringing in.
5. Integrated accounting software
Streamlining your front-of-house operations is important for servicing your customers more efficiently, but getting the back end sorted will help you save time and run your business smarter. Integrating your point-of-sale with cloud-based accounting software means your transaction data flows seamlessly between platforms, reducing the need for manual data entry and improving accuracy. Square’s Point of Sale integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks Online and Xero, giving our customers the choice of some of the world’s best cloud-based accounting software.
6. CRM (customer relationship management) software
A robust CRM — most critically, one that integrates with email marketing software that slices and dices your lists — is now a must-have. That’s because consumers are tired of mass-blasted messages and prefer more personalised, curated content.
7. Remote working tools
Offering the ability to work remotely not only helps with recruiting and retaining top talent, studies show it actually improves team productivity. In 2018, integrate technologies that make it easy for employees to manage their job from anywhere. Here’s a list of essential ones.
8. Inventory management software
As omnichannel retail becomes the expected norm, a seamless experience between online and brick-and-mortar stores is essential. To accomplish this, you need robust inventory management software. The Square App Marketplace has a number of excellent solutions that can help sync in-store and online inventory in real-time, reducing merchandising blunders.
9. Employee management software
Keeping track of your staff’s schedules on a paper calendar is needlessly messy and complicated. Get employee management software that lets you manage schedules, track time and set permissions straight from your mobile device, making everyone’s lives easier.
Square’s Employee Management features enable you to clock staff in and out, directly from the Square Point of Sale app. You also benefit from increased security features such as passcodes and managed access to features. From $3 per month, per employee, it’s an affordable way to bring order to your growth.
10. Free Wi-Fi
Wherever you are, it’s really frustrating when pages take ages to load. And if you’re a cafe or coffee shop, not offering Internet could even be a deterrent for regular customers (it’s now a criteria that’s searchable on most review sites, after all). So invest in free Wi-Fi this year. To mitigate the problem of people bunkering down for hours without buying anything, you can add signs that politely ask customers to purchase items for online access, routinely change the Wi-Fi password or employ a time limit on usage.