For entrepreneurs, thinking long-term is key to guaranteeing the health and future success of any growing business. Whether you’re just starting out on a new endeavor, or are looking to ramp up already-instituted processes, you’re liable to be bombarded with a vast array of technological choices. Where you go from here, and the choices you make can have a lasting impact on the future prosperity of your business. Fortunately, cloud-based technologies allow businesses to streamline operations, cut costs, and scale efficiently. You’ll not only be future-proofing your business from servers crashing or going offline, but will position your brick and mortar store as an innovative place to visit and shop.
Reduces Capital Outlays
Minimizing overhead costs for any business is essential. And making sure your business is running efficiently on a lean budget is key for any venture to get ahead. That’s why choosing cloud-based technology is not only a sensible, but also economical, step in ensuring the overall performance and lifespan of your business.
As the name suggests, with cloud-based technology, all your information lives in the cloud. This means there is no need to run and maintain a server, which drastically cuts down on costs. There is also no need to purchase expensive hardware, which also reduces capital outlays. In addition, cloud-based software often runs on a subscription model, eliminating costly and binding contracts.
A recent white paper on the overall cost of cloud computing for SMBs, found that that over a four-year period (for a one hundred-employee company), cloud-based software cost 50 percent less than onsite software. Less money spent, means more money saved that can go towards areas of your business you’ve been meaning to improve. Been looking to renovate your dressing rooms? Finally, you have the money to do so!
Accessible Data from Anywhere
Using cloud-based technology allows you to work from wherever you’d like. Your data is always available and secure. The flexibility this allows is invaluable. Employees are now no longer tied to their locations but can work remotely and have easy access to important business data while traveling. The ability to access information with this kind of ease encourages better work-life balances for business owners and their employees.
Not relying on an in-house server also reduces the risk of having your business go offline if the server crashes. Being unable to look up customer information or process transactions can have a crippling effect on your business. With cloud-based software, however, your business information is always accessible. Essentially, you’re future-proofing your information from human error and even natural disasters.
Ability to Automate Tasks
Arguably the most critical advantage to cloud-based technology is its ability to automate already-existing business operations — encouraging streamlined processes and freeing up your time to spend with customers and family. Cloud-based technology that helps with tasks, such as employee management and store inventory, not only saves time, but also provides convenience rarely offered by server-based computing.
Online scheduling software such as WhenIWork.com, organizes your information, letting you know who’s working when at a glance. While cloud-based systems, such as ShopKeep, provide an easy-to-use iPad POS system that helps business owners take control of inventory management and make smarter business decisions with detailed reporting. Cloud-based POS systems are also streamlined and aesthetically pleasing. This might not seem important, but a modern looking piece of hardware signals to your customers that you are
up- to-date on the latest technology and security measures, and that you take customer experience seriously. You’d never want loyal (or potentially new) customers to pass up coffee at your shop because the place down the street has a better point-of-sale experience.
Easy and Automatic Software Upgrades
Unlike legacy software systems, which required expensive in-store software updates, cloud-based software is managed and updated off site; therefore updating your system is no longer a hassle. Since a vendor is storing your data, they are also responsible for taking care of uptime and ensuring that your data remains secure.
The key to a successful transition, however, is to stay focused on the operational needs of your business. Don’t try to replace all of your software at once. To make sure the adoption process runs smoothly, be sure to find providers that integrate with each other. It’s also a good idea to test out the support desk before you purchase a product. You can never be too careful. You want to make sure that the people you will be speaking with are not only friendly, but also knowledgeable.