The allure of shiny new tech gadgets and gizmos is very real. We have all been there – succumbing to slick advertisements for new devices – and it’s no different when it comes to tech for your business. The right technology can dramatically improve the efficiency of your business, and lay the foundations for future growth, however, lean SMEs should be careful to fully assess the value that new ‘kit’ will bring.
The potential for waste is huge when it comes to tech, so at First Data Merchant Solutions (FDMS) we have conducted some research to uncover to what extent small businesses feel they have wasted money on technology products that weren’t the right fit for their business – the items that now sit in the basement or the attic unused. We discovered that:
- 31% of decision makers at small businesses said that they have purchased technology that they have never used
- Businesses run by men admitted to wasting more than women (33%/25%)
- 31% said that the unused technology was a result of evolving business needs
So what do you need to consider before you make a purchasing decision?
- Will it deliver additional insight into your customers?
The ability to understand your customers is fundamental to the success of any business – large or small. Getting to know the needs of your customers, through data analysis, will help enable your business to be one step ahead when it comes to identifying opportunities to upsell products and services, or tailor promotions and marketing campaigns. This technology needn’t be the preserve of multinational corporations and giant online sellers. With smart use of your point of sale system, you can track and capture valuable information such as customer spending patterns and popular stock. Automated analysis of this information is much more efficient than a manual Excel sheet, or pieces of paper littering a desk, freeing business owners up to focus on building, growing and enjoying their business venture.
- Does it give you the ability to run your business via the cloud?
60% of retailers said they do not use cloud computing at all. This is surprising, given the potentially transformative power of the cloud, particularly for small businesses. Cloud-based solutions bring the opportunity to select the essential tools and applications that are required to run the business, with the option to add additional ones as the business grows, and requirements change.
Beyond this scalability, it also allows business owners to oversee the business remotely. Rather than spending hours at the end of the day cashing up and accounting for stock, you can do all this – and more – from a tablet or laptop at home or whilst travelling.
- Do you have the capacity to have oversight of the whole business?
Technology is not only helpful for you as business owner/manager but also for your employees too. It can provide you with oversight of individual employees which means that performance can be carefully monitored. Naturally this gives the management team peace of mind, as you’ll be able to easily see who is clocking in and out of work and when. In addition, you can also track performance which can be the catalyst for staff incentives and bonuses.
It can be a bit of an ordeal just working out where to start when looking to new technology investments. Fundamentally, it must be adaptable and should stand the test of time. It should also help free up some of your time and help the business become a more efficient operation. Everyone should see the benefits – business owner, staff and customers alike – think about the perspectives of all parties before you make your tech investment.