Guest post by Animesh Chowdhury
Almost a year has passed and the pandemic continues to have a grasp on small businesses. With the ease of lockdown restrictions now on the tentative horizon, SMEs are very much used to technology adoption to continue operating and many will continue on this path when we start to return to some kind of normality.
Technology has been a brilliant enabler throughout this time and businesses have been able to adapt with the help of a range of innovative solutions available. A number of tools have been used, from setting up ecommerce platforms in order to sell stock, through to integrating a click-and-collect system that keeps orders coming despite premises remaining closed to the public.
Many sectors have evolved throughout lockdown and with more streamlined services and efficient practices now in place, the next step to success is to generate stronger customer loyalty.
Taking the next step
If they haven’t already, businesses that have been utilising technology to survive through COVID-19 will soon realise that there is also a significant long-term benefit to implementing these solutions. Quicker transaction speeds, easier access to data and a range of automated processes will help SMEs continue to remain flexible whilst also saving money. However, it’s important to remember that digital transformation is never the finished article.
With more organisations now operating via online channels, many are relying on delivery platforms to complete online orders to increase their business opportunities. The problem here is that they come with high merchant costs that eat away at margins. What many don’t realise is that by introducing self-fulfilment, they can create the same outcome while cutting out the pricey middleman.
Contrary to what many might believe, self-fulfilment software is straightforward and inexpensive to implement and can be utilised as a standalone product, without the need to integrate with existing POS systems for example in a retail environment.
new technologY has increased transaction speed, improved the ability to schedule delivery slots or pick-up times and increase productivity levels
However, aside from ease of integration, self-fulfilment presents a number of other benefits, the most important being the opportunity to increase customer loyalty. When businesses have control, they can then implement a series of value-adds that only work to benefit the customer.
Creating Better Offers
One obvious benefit of self-fulfilment comes through the ability to control the way a business rewards its customers. It’s not exclusive to the global franchises or major retailers with mammoth financial backing, self-fulfilment opens that opportunity to anyone. With added loyalty incentives, repeat business becomes a very realistic target.
Increased Data Leverage
With access to the right tools and software, businesses can accurately analyse customer data in order to create a highly personalised experience. A customer logs in and is greeted by a list of their recent or ‘favourite’ purchases, as well as suggestions based on their transaction history. This may seem quite simple, but small changes can make a significant difference.
For example, businesses have previously seen that higher margin products haven’t sold too well in general, but insights have shown that profits actually increase as businesses give away higher margin products to loyal customers. After introducing a loyalty app, repeat purchases often grow and become extremely profitable.
With better access to data, self-fulfilment also allows businesses to leverage sales insights in order to create better offers and deals that benefit both parties. In turn, more repeat sales become incentivised and the virtuous cycle repeats itself.
The New World of Ordering
The world has changed and continues to do so at a rapid pace. Those that are ahead of the curve right now can’t afford to rest on their laurels. Soon enough the competition will catch up.
The introduction of new technologies has increased transaction speed, improved the ability to schedule delivery slots or pick-up times and increase productivity levels. With these foundations in place, it creates the perfect environment for businesses to better their customer service, grow customer loyalty and continue to increase their revenue streams as a result.
Animesh Chowdhury is founder and CTO of Goodtill by SumUp