Why small businesses need to leverage more technology

Just 67 years after the first manned flight by the Wright Brothers, we put a man on the moon. In the short 48 years since computers were invented in 1969, they now drive the economy, cars, and shopper behavior and even plays a major role in our relationships with family and friends.

Technology advances quickly. Even the most tech-savvy people struggle to keep up with the latest and greatest advancements. Technology, by nature, is usually disruptive and hard to anticipate, but a few things seem pretty clear in regards to technology for small businesses:

  • The usage of reviews and the internet in the modern shopper’s journey isn’t slowing—it’s growing. Behaviors aren’t in the middle a shift. They’ve shifted.
  • Business who don’t keep up with tech adoption among consumers will fall behind and hurt their chances of sustained growth and success.
  • Technology should fill a role and do its job. It shouldn’t add more work to yours.

Tech reduces risk for shoppers

Recently, we discussed the role reviews play in the modern shopper’s journey. We talked about the new way people shop and how influential a business’s online reputation is. The more we look into this new behavior, the more we see just how vital reviews, ratings, and previous customers opinions are to a shopper’s decision making.

Google has been talking about this shift since before 2011. In their latest article, which focuses heavily on the use of video in the purchase journey, Google pours more fuel on the fire that has already illuminated the change in shopper behavior.

Before making a purchase, consumers want to remove as much risk as possible. Shoppers want to know that what they buy will fit their needs. Online reviews have quickly become a vital input in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Businesses that ignore this aspect of the modern shopping journey are ignoring one of the best channels ever created for attracting new customers.  

People want to hear the good and the bad
To get a full view of a product, people are actively seeking out frank reviews. As one YouTube user told us: “I want to hear the good and the bad. I also like to see how products perform in sub-optimum conditions.”

No doubt, people still look to brands for information. But that’s just one small part of their consideration process. They know brands will only tell part of the story, but they want the full picture before parting with their cash.”

– Thinking with Google, read the full article.

The more people use the Internet in their shopping, the more they’re trying to de-risk their purchase. People don’t want buyer’s remorse. They don’t want to feel they’ve wasted time or money. In some cases, such as with beauty, hair, or body art, the shopper is far more hesitant, as that decision is longer lasting. This research goes beyond comparing two similar items—it affects how people decide which plumber to hire, which hair salon to use, where to eat, and more.

Regardless of their industry, small businesses need to use the same technology that their shoppers use if they want to win their business.

Tech reduces risk for businesses, too

Technology improves the entrepreneur’s life. It can bring insights, trends, and a rich assortment of new opportunities out of obscurity. Good technology is out of sight and out of mind. Great technology is out of sight, out of mind, but proactive in threat detections and suggestive actions. Great technology notifies the user when there is something to be done to improve the situation.

For shoppers, these notifications range from new information about a product or service to new deals or to identify a new place to shop.

For business owners, those notification should be about security threats, reputational changes on your review sites, and the unseen issues your business faces.

Technology shouldn’t be a massive intrusion into your daily routine. It should simplify tasks, remove risk factors, and free up your time, so you can focus on running a business, not worrying about your online reputation. Technology should offer protection when you need it and insights when you want them, not a black hole that requires massive amounts of your thinly stretched time.

In today’s tech-driven world, the average small business is at more risk of digital threats than physical. In fact, even if you run your business in the hurricane belt, you’re at more risk of cyber and reputational threats than a hurricane. Technology can shore up those weak spots, notify you of changes or new threats, and even provide suggestions on how to prevent further problems. This applies as much to your business’s physical property as it does to your online reputation.

With so much tech entering the small and local business world, it’s no wonder so many entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed and confused. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?

Well kinda.

So much of what goes on to maintain a secure business and a strong online reputation is unseen (especially when you’re a brick-and-mortar store). You can’t fix what’s broke if you can’t see what’s broken. Your reputation is one of those areas where there is little visible evidence. But with the proper tools, you can know for sure how strong your reputation is, how you compare to your competition, get notifications of changes, and better yet, get notifications on problems before there is anything to change. But you need technology to see that problem, first.

Out of sight and out of mind is a matter of security and protection.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is an invitation for something to go wrong.Tech adoption = customer adoption

We’ve already talked about the growing rate of tech adoption among consumers and using tech to shop more.

It may seem that the more technological the world grows, the less people shop locally. But that’s not the case. While online sales are growing, 60% of consumers still prefer to shop in-store. They’re just using technology more in their decision-making process, and because so many local businesses don’t connect with them on the apps and tools they use, they’re forced to shop online with brands or retailers who do.

Advertising is still a great tool for keeping in touch with your customers, but it’s one direction. It’s a broadcast. It’s you sending an email to them. It’s not a conversation, which is what these shoppers want. 

When it comes to notifying your customers and online followers, email, tweets, and social posts are great. However, when it comes to communicating and attracting new customers, those tools can’t beat review sites, recommendations, and your online reputation.

You’re likely the authority on the services you offer. You’ve got insights consumers want to hear, and your existing customers have the testimonials your future customers need to validate their purchase. So when you’re looking into tech to increase sales and your customer base, don’t just talk at your customers. Connect with them, and you’ll win their business.

Time to keep up

While tech adoption in small businesses is on the rise, it’s not keeping up with shoppers use of technology. Where more than 9 in 10 shoppers use online reviews (technology such as Yelp, Facebook, Google, and TripAdvisor) to research a local business, only about 4 in 10 small businesses own and manage their review listings, and nearly 6 in 10 have not claimed their Google My Business page.

Nearly every shopper uses review listings, use your reputation to make an informed decision. On the flip side, less than half of small and local business have claimed or manage their listing.

PRO TIP: Just because you didn’t create the listing, doesn’t mean you don’t have one. Most businesses have a listing they haven’t claimed, and your customers are talking about your business without you knowing.

This relation is even more interesting when you consider the top two review platforms, Google My Business and Yelp pages usage contrasted between small businesses and consumers.

Now that’s a lot of information about averages, but the point is, consumers are using these tools. If you’re not, you force your customers to go somewhere else.

This isn’t a new trend; this is the way people shop. People are spending more time online as they evaluate products, services, and the places they shop. Ignoring this particular piece of technology creates a rift between your business and the shopper.

Take action

Technology has changed everything for small businesses. With limited time and resources, adapting and adopting new technology is understandably intimidating. Womply makes it easy for small businesses to boost their online reputation, engage with your customers, and monitor the health of your business without demanding much time or effort on your part.

Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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