Most small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) aspire to one day become a large company. But becoming an enterprise-level company today isn’t the same as it once was. Advancements in technology have made it possible for small retailers to act like big, 100+ employee companies.
The trick is working smarter, not harder.
While you may or may not be in a position to hire an extra employee, chances are you can benefit from (and afford) employing a bot.
Running an ecommerce or retail business is hard work. Between marketing, sales, fulfillment, and shopper support, it’s as if you have to be in 3 places at once. AI and bots can help take some of the load off by performing or automating simple tasks.
Take Kit for example, a virtual assistant for Shopify retailers. Retailers can tell Kit to automatically complete certain tasks such as SEO or email marketing. What’s more is that Kit can be controlled from your phone, making it easier to run your business while you’re on the go.
One of the oldest pieces of advice in business is to focus on what you’re good at and delegate the rest.
While there are a number of advantages to using AI to your advantage, some things can’t be left up to a robot. If you need to new piece of creative content, design work, or your accounting books updated, you might want to consider hiring a contractor to take the project on.
Sites like Upwork.com and Fiverr.com help connect contractors with people that need a job done, allowing you to sort by type of job such as marketing or data entry. The nice part about sites like these is that they are typically fairly inexpensive, and you can see reviews left by people that had hired the contractor previously.
There are a ton of areas that can benefit from automation but managing your social media pages and email marketing are a couple great places to start.
Social media is an effective tool for connecting with customers, promoting products, and providing shopper support – but doing it well requires a fairly significant time commitment. Automation can help cut down on the time required to maintain your social media pages by allowing you to schedule posts in advance, share across multiple platforms, and track which posts perform best.
Email marketing is another area that can hugely benefit form automation. For example, you can automatically send transactional emails that let customers know that their purchase was complete or that their order was shipped.
Another way that smaller businesses can act like they are enterprise-level while saving themselves a headache down the road is by ensuring they have compliance and regulatory procedures in place. While the intensity and scope of regulations will vary based on what products you sell, there are some regulations and compliance requirements that apply to all online retailers. Email and privacy regulations are two big ones.
Most businesses, big or small, use email as part of their marketing strategy. But it’s important for retailers to make sure they are sending compliant emails. Email marketing falls under the CAN-SPAM Act which lays out the dos and don’ts of sending emails to consumers. Essentially it comes down to not being deceptive, and giving recipients the ability to opt-out.
Retailers of any size are able to use technology to improve the customer experience and keep their teams connected.
Small-to-medium sized business are under pressure from large, omnichannel retailers. But technology is helping smaller retailers create a seamless multi-channel experience that rivals the big companies. Mobile app builders, social sales channels, mobile-friendly payment options, robust desktop websites, and connected mPOS devices – all of these technologies can help small retailers improve the customer experience and act like one of the big retailers.
Keeping your team connected with open lines of communication is another important aspect of becoming a larger company. But technology can help teams of any size stay connected. There are a range of free and paid tools that help teams keep on the same page. Slack, Yammer, HipChat, and even Google Docs are a few to consider.
There are a number of advantages that you have as a small to medium sized business that larger retailers simply can’t match. Small businesses are more agile and able to make decisions quickly, making it easy to respond to external opportunities or threats. So, don’t forget to stay agile.