Nearly every business you can think of has an online presence. From the small cafe downtown to the new chain store that just popped up in your local shopping mall, everyone is making use of the internet.
However, many small business owners have just a website which just doesn’t cut it in today’s technology driven society. Utilizing the available technologies and more of what the online world has to offer can save your business time and money. How? Here are a few ways that you can go digital to boost your efficiency.
Simplify your sales
One of the best places to start in your quest to boost productivity is with the sales aspect of your business site. Most companies operate both online and in-store and if you aren’t one of them, you may want to reconsider your choice.
Start by making tweaks to your website. Set up a system that rewards new customers with discounts for making their first purchase or signing up for your newsletter. A section that allows customers to place a custom order is also helpful, saving them the hassle of going to your store to discover that the product they wanted is out of stock or not carried at all.
You may also want to consider the inclusion of a price estimator, currency converter, or a setting that allows international (if you ship internationally) customers to view your products and their prices in your local currency, which is what they would pay should they make a purchase.
Ditch the stationary
It’s amazing how many resources go into the distribution of pencils, pens, notebooks, paper, and other stationary items that are used for note taking. There are a number of useful note taking and record keeping programs available online. Some are free while others require a monthly subscription, however, both are efficient, affordable options when compared with the high cost of supplying stationery to every employee.
Evernote, Simplenote, and OneNote are a few of the most popular programs that can be downloaded onto most major operating systems including Linux, Mac, and Windows.
If the idea of saving a large amount of cash over time doesn’t convince you to take up online note taking, the fact that by ditching the pens and paper saves hundreds of natural resources might be another thing to think about in terms of switching.
Utilize e-receipts and electronic invoices
Generally, when a customer purchases something from you, you’ll offer him or her a receipt. However, paper receipts are hard to keep track of for both you and the customer. They can easily get lost, destroyed, and can end up as litter on the ground outside.
A great solution to this dilemma is switching to online invoicing – receipts that are emailed instead of printed and given out. They are easier to keep track of and can be filed into a sleek folder in your business’s email account.
Going with this, making the switch to electronic invoices can be another great way to save money. Electronic invoices, like receipts, won’t get lost and don’t require the resources that their paper cousins do. Electronic invoices not only cut the cost of paper but also the cost that comes with the delivery of a traditional paper invoice.
Encourage the use of free software
Just because you pay a hefty price for a program doesn’t necessarily mean that the program will be high-quality, reliable, or that you’ll like it. Many programs charge customers for the brand name. For example, a program labeled as a “Microsoft” product will usually cost more than a program with no name or a “knock off” program.
In most cases, free programs can do their intended jobs just as well as paid programs. This is, however, a matter of research, necessity, and personal preference. Do some research on free programs and conduct a quick compare and contrast on a few of the ones that catch your eye. Focus on whether they meet all of your needs or just some of them, and opt for a candidate that, after you start to use it, continues to appeal to you and your team.
A great thing about free software is that you have the ability to witch whenever you want- risk-free and within a few clicks.
Converting your small business to a tech-savvy business isn’t too hard. There are a number of easy ways that you can make the switch, saving you money, time, and effort that can be utilized elsewhere.
Making sales easy, converting to online notes, sending electronic documents such as invoices and receipts, and scouring the web for free versions of your favorite programs are all highly cost-effective measures.
Marie Erhart is a Success Manager at FieldPulse, creators of field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. She works with contractors to help them grow their business using best practices.