While post-lockdown restrictions are easing, the situation remains complex in Australia and there are many restrictions that remain which will prevent businesses returning to ‘normal’ for the foreseeable future.
Whether it’s to streamline your operations, seek operational advantages or to embrace the future of work, small businesses are increasingly turning to technology to help them work smarter.
As the new financial year approaches, what better time to understand the technology that could help empower your small business?
If successfully lodging your tax return this year is going to be dependent on navigating a box of crumpled old receipts or a bottomless Excel spreadsheet of numbers and notes, it’s time to consider cloud accounting software.
Having your back-end processes streamlined is a massive time-saver. Especially now, when a lot of energy is being spent on front of house operations and ensuring you are meeting the needs of your customers in a safe way. Once your cloud accounting is set up you’ll no longer need 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 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.
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 comes 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.
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