Now more than ever, businesses recognise that to grow faster and smarter, they need to be online and in the cloud.
As more consumers are shifting their spending from visiting bricks and mortar stores to online shopping, businesses need to shift too. Having an online presence not only allows you to stay in the game but enables you to compete with new competitors. It also enables you to cast your net beyond geographical boundaries.
What are the benefits of moving your business online?
Leading research has revealed that most consumers like to search for information online before they shop. Nielsen found that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth referrals above all else, while Blue Corona revealed that 90% will check a business’ website before calling or emailing. So if you don’t have a website, webstore or social media page, then this is a great place to start.
Moving to the cloud can work for every part of your business. Imagine having access to job costing, time tracking, receipt/expense tracking, inventory management, fixed assets, accounting and payroll systems with an internet connection. Get instant access to your business data anywhere in the world, at any time of the day or night.
The cloud has been a game changer for technology, making it easier for businesses to get access to world-class software at more affordable prices. So let’s take a look at some benefits of moving your business online:
- Improve data security and aid disaster recovery by having your data stored safely in the cloud
- Automatic software updates save you time and money
- You can have a store location without geographical boundaries
- You can work anywhere and anytime with an internet connection with real time data and better reporting insights
- Provide a 24/7 way for people to find out more information about your business and to get in touch with you
- Generate more leads and build your business’ credibility and exposure
- Deliver broader value to a much wider range of customers
- Connect to apps that talk to each other to eliminate data re-entry
- Cloud software tends to be offered as a subscription service, so you’re not tied into contracts
- Gain access to the latest technology for relatively low prices
- Environmentally friendly, get that feel-good feeling by reducing your carbon footprint
- Potential to make money while you sleep by selling products online and/or taking prepaid bookings
History tells us that it’s the most agile businesses that can endure and survive volatile economic landscapes, and the commonality that these businesses share is that they use cloud-based tools or have an online presence. And, you can too; regardless of whether you’re a sole trader or a small business with a few employees.
If you haven’t made the move yet, then let’s address some of the reasons that may be holding you back.
Online security and data accessibility
Any online app provider knows that if they want to succeed long-term, they need to have world-class security and a reliable platform that can be accessed at any time. Secure storage of your data is paramount, and you can enquire about the quality of data storage at a potential app provider by getting in touch with them. Be sure to ask about their security, their commitments to safe storage and what your rights are in regards to this data.
You’ll also find that most apps have community forums where you can ask current users any questions you have. This can include the ease of use, the implementation process, and whether it supports your specific processes or requirements.
It takes too long to set up
Though it definitely needs some research, you don’t need to be tech savvy to get a great inexpensive website. Many ecommerce apps provide professional and modern website templates that you can set up in as little as an hour. And some even offer a custom service to set it up for you.
It can be as simple as choosing a colour theme and layout, filling out some basic information about your business and offering a way for customers to contact you. Then simply upload your product list and pricing.
As cloud apps just need an internet connection to access, you no longer need to spend hours installing and updating software, or spend money on in-house servers and data storage. This saves you hours when it comes to testing and implementing new software.
It costs too much
Harnessing modern technology can seem like a big investment, especially when cash flow is tight. However, technology done well allows your business to benefit from greater efficiency, productivity, cost savings and better financial insights. That should leave you feeling like you’ve snagged a real deal. The time saved by streamlining your processes and operations allows you to spend more time with friends and family, or on your hobbies.
You might be more familiar with using desktop software that you access from your computer in the office. One main difference between cloud software and desktop software is the cost. The upfront cost of desktop software can be in the thousands, and you may also need to factor in implementation and training costs. And that’s before we start talking about the costs of servers. Most cloud apps charge a monthly subscription, allowing you to pay as you go – which in turn allows you to invest more into your business. This also means that if you’re not getting value from the app, you can cancel your subscription, without a huge impact on your bottom line.
Don’t worry, you haven’t missed the boat. It’s definitely not too late to jump onboard and start reaping the benefits of moving your business to the cloud.
At Xero, we want to make life easier for small businesses, to help them learn, grow and thrive. We’ve put together a learning journey, with free resources on how you can move your entire business online now. Starting with ecommerce and how to set up a website, to tips and tricks to advertising and marketing yourself online. You can also learn how to move your accounts online, and finally hiring and onboarding staff virtually.