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January 9, 2019

Harnessing Technology for Business

In the past, business orders of all kinds were written down on a piece of paper and that piece of paper became the transaction record. In restaurants, it was typical to add up all the handwritten order totals and match it to the cash collected in the cash register. Today, the technology offered to merchants includes mobile apps and websites for ordering and smart Point-of-Sale systems that manage sales, inventory, scheduling, payroll, and credit card processing. These tools are important considerations for managing your business. A credit card processor like Chosen Payments can help you decide which technology platforms might be right for your business.

Here are four areas of technology to review.

Mobile Ordering and Delivery

Consumers have quickly adapted to placing mobile orders on apps from places like Starbucks and McDonald’s, and they are expecting fast, easy, and efficient interactions from locally owned businesses as well. Companies such as LevelUp, Jungleworks, and Avid Mobile offer white label mobile ordering platforms. Using a mobile ordering app definitely appeals to the millennial generation, but baby boomers love the apps just as much. As Field of Dreams taught us, “If you build it, they will come.” The recent explosion of food delivery services such as Uber Eats, GrubHub, and others has also opened up a door for new customers. Domino’s Pizza recently added 150,000 “hot spots”: locations on a beach, at a park, a sports venue, or other where you can have pizza delivered. The introduction of technology has made delivery more efficient.

Credit Card Processing

Collecting money from your customers is the most important part of any business. Accepting credit cards, gift cards, and checks should be a smooth and easy process. Statistics say that 60% of all small purchases are made using a plastic payment such as a credit or debit card. Statistics also say that 90% of all big ticket items like a refrigerator are paid for by credit card. Make sure that you accept all types of credit cards including Discover and American Express. Merchants complain about the high cost of accepting an American Express card, but if you use a credit card processor such as Chosen Payments, your Amex processing fees can be reduced to a lower amount through negotiations done by your processor, which means more profit for you.

Speaking of profit, many merchants tack on fees for accepting credit cards. If you think about it, this doesn’t happen at the grocery store, hotels, or airlines. It’s quite the turn-off to your customer. It is an overhead expense just like your utilities or insurance, so charge enough for your products and services to cover it.

Inventory Management

Managing inventory, keeping up with orders, and replenishing your inventory has always been a challenge. In the past, a physical inventory and calculated guess at what you would sell in the next few days or weeks was about as good as it got. This included a lot of manual cross-checking and calculating. If one of your suppliers raised their price on an item and you didn’t catch it, your profit margin could easily shrink. Today’s technology harnesses your cost and can automatically calculate a new selling price based on your internal cost increase. Technology can help you realize when internal theft is going on. It can help avoid creating an angry customer because you ran out of something. Using technology to manage your inventory is a must.

Social Media

Probably the best technology available to all businesses is the use of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. It is estimated that 75% of all retail businesses are using social media to promote their products and services. The biggest problem most businesses have with social media is the management of posts. While having a social presence is essential, it is important to manage it consistently. This means keeping your content fresh and updated. It means creating engagement with your customers and asking them to comment on your product or service. You can’t get a better testimonial than this platform. Knowing how often to post, what to post, and when to post it can be challenging. Businesses must be engaged in the process and respond to comments and questions on social media. While large companies will likely hire a PR or social media team to facilitate these needs, small businesses often don’t have the budget for this. Your best bet is to find someone within your organization that is thoroughly familiar with using social media as well as your business.

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