In the age of big data, large start-ups and corporations have already harnessed the power of information to better target their customers, giving them all sorts of competitive advantages over small businesses.
Just think about the way Netflix leverages customer data to make sophisticated recommendations about the TV shows a consumer might want to stream, or how Yelp helps restaurants connect with customers in their area – all while providing a highly-trafficked and influential platform for user-generated content.
When giant tech start-ups mobilize customer data, it’s tempting to just assume they have resources at their disposal that small businesses – SMBs – will never have access to. It may even seem downright difficult for SMBs to replicate these successes in their own markets or to transform their day-to-day business by using customer insights.
According to a 2016 IDG study , these beliefs largely hold true among small business owners. 78% of large companies agreed that big data has the power to change how they operate and interact with customers, while small business owners hadn’t yet fully embraced big data themselves. Of the small businesses that had adopted new technology, however, 80% said big data analytics were easier to set up and use than they originally anticipated .
Don’t let your company fall behind – not when it’s easier than you think to pull ahead. We’re here to help demystify the technology SMBs need to gain a competitive advantage – and show you how you can use analytics to compete more effectively in your own industry-
How to use your Integrated POS to gain a competitive advantage-
An integrated POS tracks and manages inventory, in addition to providing tools for storing and managing customer data. For small business owners, this level of detail can be transformative, helping to drive personalized campaigns, fuel loyalty programs, and anticipate revenue.
Pull a detailed snapshot of a customer’s purchase history to target their business more effectively in both your marketing and outreach efforts. Use trend data on sales and merchandise to make smarter decisions about inventory. With detailed snapshots of what’s flying off your shelves, small businesses reduce the chance of over-ordering, saving you crucial dollars in your inventory budget.
According to Benedict Wong, VP of Marketing at the iPad POS software company Bindo, small business owners turn to his company for a host of reasons.
'SMBs use Bindo’s integrated CRM and loyalty modules to manage their customers and to create personalized marketing campaigns to increase customer retention,' Wong told us via email. 'Our technology also helps SMBs keep accurate track of their inventory and automated purchase ordering through a simple, intuitive, yet powerful interface.'
Who can benefit from this technology- Retail outlets, restaurants, and other businesses in the hospitality industry – like hotels, spas, and salons – should consider upgrading ASAP to take advantage of customer insights and the potential for increased revenue.
As a small, family-owned business, Charlie & Sons convenience store provides daily necessities for the members of their Queens, NY community. But when business started to flag and inventory became too much of a chore, the owners needed a solution – fast.
With an upgraded POS, Charlie & Sons have access to real-time data about their inventory, an easier way to manage cash flow, and a system for targeting individual customers. Not only does this help solve issues around ordering, but they’ve also been able to 'increase their bottom line by three-fold,' according to Bindo .
How to use your Customer Loyalty Program to gain a competitive advantage-
Integrating your customer loyalty with sales data can help you target consumers directly with meaningful offers, whether via email or mobile push notifications. And since return customers outspend new business by more than 60% , it’s more important than ever to make sure your best customers feel valued.
Use customer loyalty data to increase return business, personalize marketing efforts, and market your business to new customers, too. User-generated content, like online reviews from your most loyal customers, can impact the trust of up to 72% of new customers – and that could mean a big bump in your bottom line.
Small business owners now have more choices than ever when it comes to ditching paper punch cards and adopting digital customer loyalty platforms that provide real customer insight. Perkville , Belly Card , and LoyaltyGator all provide the data you need to design real-time campaigns to drive customers to your door.
Some customer loyalty programs, like Loyalzoo, even go a step further, removing the hassle from the customer sign-up process to maximise full engagement with a businesses digital loyalty program.
'The Loyalzoo service draws customers back in by removing old school paper and plastic loyalty programs, switching it up by digitizing and gamifying the whole experience,' explains Rhiannon Davies, Growth and Engagement Manager at Loyalzoo.
'Not only that, you’re gaining customer contacts and having direct access to their phones – this is priceless when it comes to re-marketing, enticing customers to return over and over again,' she adds.
Who can benefit from this technology- Almost every restaurant, retail outlet, and lifestyle small business has some sort of customer reward or loyalty program. But why use paper punch cards when you could have real-time insights on sales and marketing trends that impact your business?
At Premier Yoga Fitness, business owner Philip Henslee adopted a loyalty program that allowed customers to earn points for referring friends, creating UGC, and attending classes. Points let customers earn perks and merch – and bring out their competitive side. They have an adoption rate of about 50% – and multiple channels where customers can sign up.
How to use your In-Store Financing program to gain a competitive advantage-
Make your small business more competitive with larger companies and big box stores by offering flexible financing options for customers. This option helps increase customer loyalty, transform potential interest into a sale, and increase average order size, too.
'Offering financing is a proven way to increase sales and turn browsers into buyers,' Greg Lisiewski, CEO of financing company Blispay, told us via email. 'This is why big box retailers have been offering financing programs for years.'
But offering flexible financing doesn’t mean you have to put your business at risk. New options like Blispay and Loan Hero make in-store financing feasible for customers and business owners alike.
'By offering their customers an affordable and easy-to-understand payment option, SMBs gain a competitive edge and are able to market low monthly payments for their product or service,' Kristin Slink of Loan Hero explains.
Ease the burden of an unpredictable cash flow and make your business more appealing to customers – all with one program.
Who can benefit from this technology- Retail outlets and specialty boutiques, as well as lifestyle and health services, can all benefit from the increased customer flexibility in-store financing options offer.
Despite catering to a wealthier clientele, Nava Health and Vitality Center customers were clamoring for more financing options and flexibility. With Blispay in place, Nava Health significantly increased both customer loyalty and their average order size. 87% of their customers continue to use the service, while Nava Health’s average order value has increased by 185%. That’s a pretty great return on investment!
How to use Digital Signage Displays in your stores to gain a competitive advantage-
In-store marketing efforts like digital displays offer businesses the opportunity to engage with customers at every point during the retail experience.
Think touch-screen content in long lines, marketing hashtags placed strategically near inventory, and loyalty program offers at checkout. Even sophisticated video storytelling helps customers feel like they’re a part of the brand.
Track how successful these marketing efforts are by linking promotions to sales within a specific period or by measuring the growth of your customer loyalty program.
'Businesses can use digital signage to announce promotions and company news to engage captive audiences, such as people waiting in line at a bank or an ice cream store, and to display hashtagged social media updates that provide social proof to other customers or clients,' explained Colin Bovet, head of marketing and partnerships for digital signage software company Enplug .
'Digital signage can even help companies motivate and retain employees by utilizing the software to showcase employees across multiple locations, in order to foster a sense of company cohesiveness,' he added.
Who can benefit from this technology- Digital displays feel natural in places such as chain restaurants and retail outlets. Clothing brands like Uniqlo and Marks & Spencer have made big strides in using unique digital content to engage their customers , too.
As wait times increased at Creamistry , an upscale ice cream franchise, the owners knew they needed a way to keep fans of the brand engaged in line. By introducing digital content on television screens, customers engaged with the brand on social media and flocked to the store’s customer loyalty program.
'We’re now creating content to be shared on the Enplug system via the Graphics App,' Angie Kim, marketing coordinator at Creamistry, told Enplug . “We are sharing fun facts, promotions, new products, our loyalty program, and catering options.'