Four Small Business Tech Trends for 2016

2016-Small-Business-trendsKeeping up with the latest technology trends could be just what your small business needs to increase profits in 2016. Here are some tips to consider for a prosperous new year.

Get in the Cloud

While the cloud isn’t new, it’s recently gained momentum with small businesses. If you are concerned about the complexities of launching an online site, talk to your Heartland sales rep for guidance to help you get up and running quickly.

You may currently save your files, apps or software to your computer hard drive or an external drive. The cloud hosts services (e.g., iCloud, Dropbox, Amazon, Netflix, etc.) that run on the Internet instead of your physical computer.

Cloud technology is more cost-effective than buying and maintaining physical hardware—formerly a capital expenditure. Take into account the benefit of regular, automated updates with the cloud—freeing up your time to focus on your business.

The cloud is about the flexibility and freedom from being tied to one computer, likely located at your place of business. With cloud computing, you’re able to securely manage work-related tasks and access files from virtually anywhere, on any device you choose.

Probably one of the most important perks of using the cloud is disaster recovery. If you’ve ever experienced lost data and critical files due to a computer crash—especially if there hasn’t been proper backup—the results can be catastrophic. Cloud technology ensures data is always backed up and can be restored.

In 2015, statistics showed that 37 percent of small businesses made the transition to the cloud. If you’re still skeptical, start small. You don’t need to move all of your data and business files at one time. Instead, move some data as a test to see if it suits your needs.

Get Online

Open up sales to new customers and increase brand recognition by taking your business beyond its four walls. In 2015, U.S. shoppers spent a record $4.45 billion online on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday alone. It’s a booming market that you don’t want to miss out on. If you’re concerned about the complexities of launching an online site, please contact Dee Sproule for a consultation.

Another way to gain an online presence is through social media and email marketing. Using these tools is an affordable way to attract customers, strengthen existing relationships, boost sales and spread the word about your business.

Get Mobile

Smartphones are everywhere. Studies show that in 2015, 75 percent of mobile phone users had smartphones—a pretty conservative estimate. Small businesses should consider offering their customers ways to use their smartphones to make purchases smoothly, quickly and with decreased opportunities for credit card fraud.

The U.S. is just at the tipping point of mobile payment acceptance. But as far as technology trends are concerned, this one’s likely to stay. Gartner, Inc. forecasts a mobile payments market worth $721 billion with more than 450 million users by 2017. Products like Apple Pay and Android Pay allow customers to quickly pay with an NFC-enabled (near field communications) terminal, creating a more convenient experience.

In addition, mobile ordering is a trend that has seen much success. By creating a mobile-friendly e-commerce site, you can increase ticket size and create additional revenue—especially true for restaurants.

The way consumers pay for goods and services is continually changing. That’s why today’s businesses should look into a payment processing partner like Heartland that can provide high-quality services, products and customer care.

Get Secure

Data security breaches continue to wreak havoc on businesses of all sizes. In 2015, BlueCross BlueShield, Donald Trump’s hotel chains, T-Mobile and even the U.S. government were victims of data breaches. Those are examples of large organizations, but in reality, 71 percent of all breaches target small businesses. Security should continue to be an important focus for your business in 2016.

October 2015 introduced a liability shift in the U.S.—with EMV becoming an extra tool in the fight against credit card fraud. Unlike the magnetic stripe card, the EMV chip creates unique codes with every transaction, which makes it difficult for a criminal to duplicate. Businesses that didn’t upgrade their equipment after October 1 may be liable for chargebacks due to fraudulent transactions. It’s not too late to reexamine your options. Contact Dee Sproule for a consultation.