How Technology Gives Smaller Retailers an Advantage
Technology is often cited as a way for large corporations to gain power and market share. From this perspective, small businesses may come to fear technology or view it as a negative development. However, applied correctly, technology is actually a powerful tool to level the playing field and help small businesses compete. In this article we show some ways that small businesses can use technology to become more competitive.
Social media is unquestionably one of the primary technological forces that small businesses can use to bolster their business, regardless of their industry. Traditionally, customer outreach and advertising were prohibitively expensive. Even if the budget for conceiving, producing, and broadcasting advertisements existed, the expertise needed to implement it was out of the reach of most small businesses. Now, social media allows small businesses to reach an unparalleled number of potential customers.
According to Strike Social, by utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even LinkedIn to advertise, the financial outset of advertising no longer needs to be cost-prohibitive. Most importantly, any money spent on advertising via social media is significantly more effective than prior advertising methods due to the ability to target ads to your primary audience. Customers trust local businesses that advertise over social media, which allows you to edge out the larger competition and build loyal followings.
Make sure your business presence on social media is planned (by using a calendar), consistent (by making sure you post every week, at lease once a week), authentic (by finding and using your own voice), and relevant (don’t post commercial messages, but provide useful content!)
Beyond social media, there has never been a more flexible set of business software available. For example, according to Celerant, tablet-based POS software allows retailers to accept both traditional and mobile payments. However, business productivity software does not end with mere POS systems. Inventory tracking, invoice production, and online order taking also allow small businesses to compete and thrive in an ever-growing marketplace.
Retail businesses can take advantage of technological advances by using equipment like digital signage, which provides on-demand and relevant content to their customers; they can also become more efficient by using software like uniFLOW and Therefore to manage their document filing, search and retention.
The applicability of small-business software truly knows no bounds. Rapid prototyping equipment such as 3D printing and CNC manufacturing has allowed small manufacturing companies to achieve a level of efficiency never before seen. Online appointment and scheduling software have allowed those in the healthcare or legal fields to operate seamlessly with less administrative strain. Regardless of the industry, there is software to allow improvement.
Technologically Savvy Doesn’t Mean Impersonal
Many small businesses are apprehensive to adopt modern technology because they fear that doing so would make their business seem impersonal. In other words, they fear that it would prevent their business from providing the tailored customer-focused care that small business supporters prefer. Despite this fear, the opposite is true. By embracing technology, whether that be via advertising, POS systems, or any other form, the modern small business owner is given the freedom to focus on the aspects of their business that make it unique and successful.
Technology is not the culprit to destroy a small business. Rather, it is the path to a small business being able to thrive. The use of social media advertising is a hugely exciting opportunity for small businesses to grow and expand while still remaining more in touch than ever with their customer base.
For more ideas to boost your small business, read on, here!