Using new technology to boost your bricks-and-mortar business
Even if you’re not an ecommerce business, tapping into new tech could help you improve everything from backend operations to your instore experience and customer service, sometimes all at once.
AI, for example, can support the automation of everyday processes, reveal insights through data analysis, and facilitate engagement with customers and employees – three fundamental business needs.
So not only are businesses that embrace advancing technology boosting efficiency and therefore reducing their operational costs, they’re also better able to anticipate customer needs, keep track of inventory and stock levels, and tailor their products and services to suit their target market’s purchasing behaviours.
A need for speed
As a mid-sized residential building company, Tailored Construction Group can have up to 10 jobs on the go at any one time, each of which requires a steady stream of information, images and videos to pass between team members and the clients who have commissioned the work.
That means a lot of data flying back and forth, and before switching their business over to the NBN, Managing Director Jonathan Hayes says they were having to download some big files at home, where the service was faster.
Now, thanks to cloud-based project management software, their internet connection isn’t the only thing that’s picked up pace.
“We have seen our business grow more quickly since we’ve had it,” Hayes says. “We’ve taken on more projects, and the speed of being able to communicate with our clients means we can turn over more work.”
The level of communication between Tailored Construction team members has also improved through the new system, and with everyone on the same page, things are less likely to get lost in translation.
“All our employees can see the conversations no matter who it’s going to,” says Hayes, “so the first person to see the comment come through can answer that problem that the clients have, or if they need to troubleshoot something, the best person can respond straight away.”
Improving the customer experience
Responsiveness is a major asset in modern business, and an excellent way to gain an edge over the competition, according to Natalie Davies, General Manager of Customer Service at Commander.
“Nowadays people are a lot more inclined to let the world know where things haven’t gone well,” she says, “so you’ve got to be ahead of the game and define yourself on something that is your point of difference – and customer service is one of those points of difference.”
Tailored Construction achieved this through project management software, but there are other ways bricks-and-mortar businesses can reap the benefits of new tech. For example, beacons, where shoppers can download a retailer’s app and use their smartphones to easily locate items they need, vastly improving the instore experience for those who want to get in, find what they need, and get out quickly.
Other technologies, such as those that alert people to in-store coupons and discounts based on their location and/or purchasing history, can also help create a better service, and more loyal, satisfied customers.
“You want to be able to ensure all aspects of your customer service are seamless, uninterrupted and quick, because people move quickly and if you’re slower or unresponsive, they will potentially move on to the next business that may provide a similar, if not the same, product or service,” Davies says.
“You’ve got to nail it – if you do, you reap the benefit; if you don’t, there’s a potential that you’re just not going to achieve what it is you want to achieve in growing your business.”
Planning for growth
New tech and software solutions are only as good as the internet service you’re running them on, and a slow or disrupted connection could be very bad for business, knocking out EFTPOS machines, impacting internal and external communications, and potentially costing you sales.
“Reliability with high speed is absolutely an essential ingredient for expediting growth,” Davis says, “by being ahead of the competition, putting your best foot forward, and maximising opportunities – because things are moving rapidly and you just can’t afford to be slow in a fast-moving environment.”
With so much riding on your connection, it’s simply not something you should have to worry about, she adds.
“It can’t be a distraction – it’s got to be a plan that suits you and one that can change to reflect your growing needs, allowing you to focus on what you need to focus on, and that’s your business.”