Prepare for the holidays part II: Investing in technology.

Nov 12 2018 | Contributing writer Gene Marks, small business expert, CPA, and PayPal ambassador

Today’s savvy buyers expect information at their fingertips, to make their purchases fast and for you to stay in touch with them. Now’s a good time to invest in some tech upgrades so you can be holiday-ready before shoppers start streaming through physical and virtual doors. Consider tackling these eight technologies.

Re-design your website.

Make sure your website loads fast and makes product information easily accessible. Test to see that users can quickly find information about your company or specific products. Make sure your site is fully mobile-optimized; if not, users searching Google on their smartphones and tablets may not find your business. Take time well before the holidays – late summer/early fall to go through your entire site and leave yourself room for testing and upgrades.

If you don’t already have a website, set one up easily with an ecommerce provider to get preferred rates as a PayPal user.

Optimize your checkout.

Making sure your online customers check out quickly and easily is critical for ensuring a completed sale. How good is your checkout process? Are the instructions clear? Can the customer see their progress? Are you minimizing data entry with auto-fill tools? Is your customer being bounced to another website? Are you showing how trustworthy your site is throughout the process? These are just some of the things you need to be implementing well before the holiday rush.

Set up and configure multiple customer payment options.

It’s not just about accepting credit and debit cards – you want to make sure you’re offering customers as many payment options as possible.  With PayPal Checkout, you can also accept Venmo and PayPal Credit*. The last thing you want is a customer walking out the store this holiday season because you couldn’t accept payment from them.

Get a mobile point-of-sale system.

Increase the speed and ease of your in-store experience by enabling your employees with new point-of-sale hardware. Your employees can come out from behind the register, interact with customers, look up information and ring up sales on the go. Use a simple payment device or a tablet running a cloud-based application.

Consider more self-service terminals.

Enable your customers to pick, buy, and go quickly. Offer products your customers can buy without involving one of your employees. It can improve your in-store experience and increase your employee productivity.

Integrate your brick & mortar POS with your website.

The new POS systems today integrate with your ecommerce store so that as you sell something in-store it's reflected in available inventory online too. This saves you time from constant site updates, and it helps you avoid a disappointed customer.  

Set up a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.

With a CRM database you can collect critical information from your customers – both in store and online – so you can continue to reach out to them in the future with offers, messages, and deals. CRM systems are also a great way to track customer sales and interest that can help you determine what inventory you should carry in the months to come.

Implement a loyalty system.

There are a number of inexpensive loyalty apps that you can set up for your customers to use. Or maybe you just want to do the old-school punch-card system for recurring customers. Whatever you decide, get a loyalty system established as soon as possible, so you can encourage your customers to keep buying…maybe even after the holidays.

The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.
*Subject to consumer credit approval.

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