Small businesses in London can certainly use technologies to build stronger capabilities and seize growth opportunities.
In October 2019, when high street chains Karen Millen and Coast went into administrations and announced closures, the online fashion chain Boohoo acted swiftly to snap up the two brands following their collapse. But Boohoo is not keeping the stores open, instead they choose to relaunch them as online-only retailers.
If you have been following this piece of news and the closures of other high street stores, you can see that technologies have changed the way businesses operate and how goods and services are being delivered and consumed. In fact, it is said that consumers now spend one in every five pounds online; this means that traditional brick and mortar stores are seeing 20% fewer sales than before but they still need to maintain overhead (business rates, rents and wages) that increases every year.
Needless to say, to compete in the digital era, SMEs must develop digital capabilities and competencies. It is with this in mind that our accountants for London’s small businesses look to discuss how small businesses in London can utilise technology to help them streamline operations, improve their brand awareness, enhance customer service, bolster fiscal health and gain an edge over competitors.
How should my small business be using technology?
Using technology to streamline operations
In many small businesses, the owners and the employees tend to wear multiple hats. For instance, the sales person is likely to be the person who manages accounts and even chases unpaid invoices. The marketing staff may also take on the roles of web design, social media, or even photography. To help ease workflow, small business owners and their employees can turn to technology.
For instance, apps for project management, note taking, inventory tracking and document signing are inexpensive and brilliant in increasing efficiency. Cloud computing is another obvious choice. By storing your data in the cloud, you are essentially empowering your team members to literally work from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection.
Cloud computer does not limit to just servers and data storage though; cloud-based software is also a real money saver. In the UK, many small businesses have chosen to use Xero, a powerful cloud-based accounting software that is built for small business owners. If you would like to know more, check out this page about Xero and how it can help you to organise your business account and finance.
Using technology to improve your brand awareness and sales
In this digital age, having a web presence is a given and being visible in social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) is also expected. But small business owners know that it can be a challenge to manage a company’s online presence. For a start, it takes time and efforts to make a landing page rank high on search engine results pages and more importantly, complaints rather than compliments tend to crowd your social media profiles.
While there are no silver bullets that can remove all digital challenges, small business owners can certainly use the following tactics to increase their brand awareness and sales online:
- Launch targeted advertisement campaigns like Pay-Per-Click.
- Give consumers a reason to visit your page, entice them with discounts or freebies.
- Post fresh, engaging and relevant content regularly.
- Partner with influencers who can help to promote your brand.
- Seek help from a professional digital marketer and test out which digital channels are best suitable for your business.
It is important to treat your online presence like a business function – meaning you set objectives and measure the progress, and if things do not work out, change your strategy accordingly.
Using technology to enhance customer service
Once upon a time, Customer Relationship Management or CRM software was used solely by multinational corporations. Today, they are helping small businesses to capture and convert new leads, store customer information, automate your communication including drip sales emails, stay in touch with your customers, among other tasks.
The upshot is this – if you don’t know who is buying from you, or if you’re still relying on Excel to store the information of your customer, then it’s time to talk to one of the many CRM software experts and find a system that is best suitable for your business.
What about AI?
Artificial Intelligence or AI is undeniable a buzzword we often hear nowadays. The fact is most of us have already used AI-powered apps and devices in our daily lives and will continue to utilise AI through a piece of technology or equipment.
How should small business owners go about implementing technology?
When it comes to technology, the word relevant is key; what works for a company may not work for another. However, the process that helps you decide whether to use a piece of technology or not should be data-driven as opposed to relying on one’s gut feeling.
Let’s assume for a moment that every store in your area has installed a new digital payment but you. You believe that the new technology is too much of a hassle and you prefer to accept only cash. Whether your decision is right or wrong, only data (in this case your sales figure) can tell. If your sales remain strong despite you have chosen not to accept digital payment, then you can safely conclude that it is the right decision. However, if the absence of the new digital payment has hurt your bottom line but your gut feeling still resists it, chances are, you will lose out eventually.
In the event that you have decided to invest in a piece of technology, then it is worth measuring if the technology has indeed resulted in improvements in a certain area.
Tax Agility helps small businesses in London
Small businesses in London are rather progressive and forward-looking when it comes to embracing technology. Walking around Cavendish Square in Central London where one of our offices is located, it is relatively easy to see stores listing their website and accepting a myriad of digital payments including international options like WeChat Pay.
For small business owners considering bigger investment in technology, it is always worth looking at some numbers and calculate the return of investment first. If you need independent and honest advice pertaining to your accounts, you can give one of our small business accountants a call.
At Tax Agility, our small business accountants take on the accounting and bookkeeping duties for entrepreneurs in and around London, affording you more time to focus on your business.
The services we provide for London’s small businesses include:
Call us on 020 8108 0090 or get in touch via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no-obligation meeting.
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:
- Small Business: 5 ways to get new customers
- Accounting tips for small businesses
- 7 key steps to growing a business online
This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.