Both small and large tech businesses are developing and combining their tools to create new and exciting ways of improving online marketability for newcomers. Look at how popular readily available resources such as Kickstarter have become in recent years, providing valuable investment tools for entrepreneurs looking for their breakthrough.
Crowdfunding sites have definitely proved their worth at getting a business started, but just because a business has passed the funding stage doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed success – there is still plenty of scope for new tools to emerge which help businesses as they advance and grow.
Over the next twelve months, I believe we will see an increase in the technological resources available to help small businesses and startups compete with their larger, more technologically advanced rivals.
As an entrepreneur myself, I know the difficulties of setting up a new business. Fortunately I have been lucky and have seen the hard work I’ve put in pay off, but there are many smaller businesses, from family run retail businesses to international enterprises operating on a small scale, that truly struggle to make their mark online.
Facebook’s overwhelming popularity means that it is able to provide businesses with access to a wide network of users that they might not be able to reach through standard means, and turning a Facebook page into what is effectively an additional shopping page just creates more opportunities to increase revenue. It’s not just Facebook either; while Twitter’s format is a lot more simplistic, Amazon has recently begun enabling users to add items to their shopping basket using just a hashtag.
Businesses are already capitalising on tools like Facebook to boost sales, but the next step in 2015 will be to use sites like this as a platform for service-based offerings like fitness classes, hair and beauty appointments and even excursions and events to take actual bookings, receive payments etc, especially for smaller businesses.
Research conducted by John Lewis this year revealed that online shopping between midnight and 6am has risen by 30%. As more and more customers become increasingly connected to countless shopping opportunities through tablets and smartphone apps, effortless spending is available at any time of the day or night.
Online shopping is more popular than ever before, especially outside of high-street shopping hours, and booking tools are becoming ever more vital to businesses, especially to small businesses looking to compete with their larger competitors or just carve out a niche in the market.
Businesses who have the ability to not only target customers with marketing messages when they are in the mindset to purchase, but give them the ability to 'buy it now' at any time of day or night, will be best placed to succeed in 2015.
Online booking and shopping is nothing new, but it’s one that will continue to grow and evolve, and it is crucial for any business to make use of online technologies as much as possible. Online shopping is a particularly important device, immediately increasing a business’s competitiveness in the market.
Retail startups should always consider their online operations to be just as much a part of the business as their offline operations, instead of just being an afterthought.
The modern 24/7 consumer culture is a huge opportunity to fledgling businesses, but can also pose a difficult challenge, as their larger competitors will already be very well suited to service the market, with most big brands now offering next-day delivery right up until 10pm. However, this provides a wealth of opportunities for technology companies to develop tools aimed at helping small businesses compete with the larger businesses online.
Small businesses, especially in more traditional startup areas, can get a head start by using tools, like Click Hello, which provide instant access to SaaS without the huge costs of bespoke software. When developing the software, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to use, integrating it easily onto their website and Facebook page, as I realised many small businesses find it very difficult to provide the professionally designed online presences that their competitors boast.
With so many different businesses and industries able to make use of such tools, from personal trainers to driving instructors, recording studios to meeting rooms, I believe technologies like this will prove to be valuable to a wide range of small businesses looking to compete successfully in 2015.
So in summary, greater integration with social networks and other online business tools will allow small businesses to increase their sales in new ways by tapping into a pre-existing network of users.
By doing so, businesses can encourage many more views than a business’s website might receive through sharing and promotion across the site, and will likely find themselves in a much more competitive position than before.
Find out more about Click Hello, a new software solution for anyone with a resource booking requirment, here.