Lack of investing capital is a problem that’s tough to overcome. So, small firms are always at a disadvantage. Luckily, the internet dominates the business landscape in 2017. And it brings along opportunities for small businesses.
Beneficial Uses of the Internet for Small Businesses
If you are a small business owner reading this, here’s my hand-picked collection of tips to help small companies profit off of internet:
Custom Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are awfully cliched. Customers are so used to them that they don’t feel excited anymore upon receiving a discounted travel offer because they know how to calculate out of pocket costs, or maybe because they have already been to that place. Some customers even complain those programs are intrusive.
Customized loyalty programs, on the other hand, are designed to suit individual needs of customers. Automation and innovation are two of its key components. Automation helps businesses hollow out customer insights. This is where the internet comes into the equation.
Internet applications help small businesses collect customer insights. These insights include what interests customers and how they engage. And these insights play a contributory role in creating custom rewards. Relevant apps include Belly, Square, ShoutEm and SpotOn. I am a bit biased to Square because its customization options are pretty impressive. The dashboard lets you create and manage rewards based on:
- Number of repeat visits.
- Number of repeat purchases.
- Amount spent.
Other apps highlight demographic factors. Belly and SpotOn are both swipe card apps designed for people whose lives don’t revolve around apps. ShoutEm is a downloadable app for people who stay online 24/7. As they scan the QR-code, redeemable points get added in the store’s PoS.
Small businesses typically offer rewards in the form of gift cards or products and services at discounted rates. With demographic details of customers being available, small businesses can take customization to another level. How about rewarding a millennial tech enthusiast a free pass to join a gadget show? Or how about giving away an armchair for free to an aged customer with high loyalty score?
This sounds a bit far-fetched, especially for companies operating with shoestring budgets. Because individual small businesses have limited outreach, this is possible only if small businesses can forge coalitions joining forces with other businesses for marketing.
Small Businesses Merge Platforms
If small businesses forge a coalition, the above scenarios could be a lot more possible. However, a retail conglomeration seems unrealistic at this moment, more so because small firms stay overly busy with their day-to-day operations. They don’t have time for this kind of strategy.
A more realistic scenario is one small business website sending its incoming traffic to another site. It’s a symbiosis that can help both parties and it’s only possible online. For this to happen, below-listed conditions would need to be met.
- The two companies must be operating in different lines of business. Or else, they would be each other’s competitors.
- The product/service of one business must be supplementary to another’s.
Online traffic referral can bolster reward programs. Imagine a small pottery business partnering with a rookie digital art photographer. When people scrolling through digital art pieces on his site view a clickable banner of designer ceramic tiles, they click on the banner and land on the pottery business website. When such partnerships expand across the small business spectrum, loyalty programs become highly customized.
Internet-based automation could aid in small business collaboration. Standard collaboration software lets businesses share information internally and with customers. Up and coming software solutions allow small businesses to collaborate via web conferencing, live webinars and various cloud-based tools, whether they be WiFi or shared workspace. Small enterprises can collaborate with each other on manufacturing, distribution and logistical areas, ultimately directing the whole small business vertical to a synergistic destination.
Accessing hitherto inaccessible markets and building presence in the target market are two major advantages of collaboration between small businesses. And as long as such a collaboration is informal and not legally governed, the parties involved don’t have any legal obligation and tax compliance.
Online Reward Cards
A small business can operate as an affiliate partner of a reward card company. The reward card industry is booming due to reasons cited below:
- Premiere reward cards eliminate the need for debit or credit cards issued by banks.
- The card issuers offer several perks. A case in point is Chase Sapphire Reserve. They offer a $300 travel credit, whereas only $200 travel credits are offered by American Express Platinum.
- Discounts and redeem options touch on almost every leisurely and even some professional affairs.
For small businesses, especially the ones operating in the B2C sector, entering into a business partnership with an online reward card provider can be advantageous as the lure of sign-up bonus and redeemable points will fetch hordes of customers and increase repeat purchases by them.
Likewise, the reward card issuer will benefit from the partnership as the small business will do the marketing for them. Every business — regardless of its scale and size — can be counted upon to do self-promotion. For the card issuer, getting a mention via its partner’s promotional chest-thumping translates to extended outreach for zero cost.
Allowing Purchase in Cryptocurrency
This one is the most salient out of all the tips shared here in this article. Cryptocurrencies are here to stay and change the economy as we know it. The pressing question is how small businesses can benefit from them.
Bitcoin, the trendsetting cryptocurrency, was worth only pennies in 2008. Now, it’s worth $3800 and growing. And yet, cryptocurrency adoption is unimaginably low at this point in time. If a small business accepts payment in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it will get new customers from across the globe. Very few merchants allow payment in cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency exchanges don’t mind their APIs being used. This allows small businesses to find the best rate after comparing different exchange rates. In fact, they can set up their own exchanges and profit from in-store purchases using cryptos.
And the above listed benefits are the tip of the iceberg. Small companies can also benefit from the following too:
- Create a blockchain. They are already connected to customers and partners. So they can expect a decent sale of tokens in the ICO phase. When cryptocurrency finally releases, whatever progress the market cap makes, the developers will be the largest beneficiaries, provided they have the largest holdings.
- Install data security and other cloud services that are traded in crypto exchanges. One such service is Siacoin. Although the currency is mineable, its price depends on mass adoption. When a group of small businssses pay for Siacoin storage and encourage their customers to store their personal data in the said storage, the adoption rate increases tenfold. Imagine how much money the small business will make then if they have previously invested in Siacoin.
There are so many other ways cryptocurrency can benefit small businesses. The bottom line is cryptocurrency is the embodiment of internet innovation, and waiting to be harnessed by small businesses.
The tips discussed here are not typical copybook type. They are borne out of experience and talking to several experts in the respective fields. I suggest you start following them today onward to grow your small business.
Creative Group Discussion Photo via Shutterstock