The holidays bring in lots of opportunity for businesses to rake in extra profits. Small Business Saturday is a great way to wow new customers who are already in the mood to make a purchase. Get ahead of the game and woo more customers by harnessing one of the biggest technological trends of the past few years: the IoT (Internet of Things). What is the IoT? It’s the network of physical objects interconnected to the Internet and one another. Right now, we’re used to having devices like cell phones and computers connected to the Internet, but many other everyday items are beginning to connect. Why does this matter for you as a small business owner? Let’s take a look at how you can use IoT devices to your advantage on this year’s Small Business Saturday.
Building brand loyalty isn’t the easiest task, especially if you’re a small business. IoT devices can help you gain loyal customers more quickly, by offering personalized deals and dynamic loyalty programs that efficiently encourage repeat business. When someone makes a purchase at your store and signs up for your loyalty program (or app, if you’ve got one), you immediately collect relevant data on them. What are they buying? What sales did they shop? By using this information, you can send personalized deals and rewards to your customers to get them back in the store (or online) and ready to buy. Some systems take this a step further, using IoT devices to provide real-time deals while customers are actually shopping in the store. In fact, Kohl’s is already using this technique in their locations nationwide. While you may not be able to implement this kind of technology right away, getting comfortable with smaller steps will help you stay on the cutting edge of IoT business strategies as these solutions become more mainstream.
Credit cards are still the most common form of payment, but that’s quickly changing. Mobile payment options like mobile wallets (Apple and Samsung Pay), platforms like PayPal and Venmo, and convenient card readers like Square are stealing the show, and may soon become the biggest way to pay. Businesses should consider investing in mobile payment technology, not only because it appeals to consumers, but because electronic payments make it easier to connect with customers and send out personalized deals.
Monitoring your stock during the holidays can be a challenge. With merchandise flying off the shelves at faster-than-normal rates, your customers sometimes leave empty-handed. Amazon Dash is one of the easiest ways to automatically re-order products when supplies are low. Some retailers who sell perishable items have also integrated sensors to indicate when supplies have passed their expiration date, or otherwise need to be pulled from the shelves.
Hiring security personnel or full scale security systems is expensive—and false alarms can be costly for small businesses. New IoT options like smart locks, which send alerts via text message or email, can be a great option for increasing security and peace of mind, while avoiding unnecessary hassle.
Getting Your Small Business Started
For many small business owners, the startup costs are the main deterrents for implementing new IT solutions and IoT devices. However, if you’re looking to grow your small business, the initial investment in this equipment could serve you well in the long run. Because the technology is still fairly new, gaining these advantages could give you a serious competitive edge in your industry. Start using technology to your advantage this Small Business Saturday: launch a new loyalty program, check out the mobile payment options available, or look into a new smart system to boost efficiency. IoT has the potential to help small businesses become more efficient, cut costs, increase productivity, and tap into new markets. Being on the cutting edge of technology has never been this easy—or valuable.