This issue of our Adopting Digital Technology series focuses on monetary transactions, specifically for those small businesses working in business to consumer (B2C) environments, such as a coffee shop, retail shop, restaurant – the list goes on!
Every business is at a different degree of technology adoption, and this article addresses the varying degrees of integration.
Starting a small business includes lots of components – the business plan, securing financing, establishing a marketing strategy, and researching your target market and competition. For many, accepting electronic payments might be low on the priority list, specifically if the processing fees that accompany electronic payments is perceived to be a burden. However, a report published by Global Solutions Network turns these assumptions around – in fact, your small business cannot afford to not adopt electronic payments.
By sticking to cash and refusing electronic payments, the report says, businesses are digging themselves into a rut that is hard to climb out of later. Furthermore, they are only able to retain customers who prefer to pay in cash – a demographic that is declining as digital natives mature. And the time you save not counting cash can be better spent on customer service and developing relationships.
With the use of cash decreasing, it is becoming more and more necesssary for businesses to accept alternative payment methods. A Bank of Canada report illustrated a significant decrease in the number of cash transactions as well as the value of cash transactions, projecting that this trend will continue. Here are a few great resources to help you get started accepting credit card payments to grow your business:
Merchant Information – Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Selecting a Payment Processor: Making the Right Choice for your Organization (Retailer's Guide) - Retail Council of Canada
Six Ways to Save Credit-Card Headaches – Entrepreneur Magazine
Accepting Credit Cards: A Small Business Guide – Business News Daily
Payments Checklist: Tips for Choosing The Right Processor – Small Business BC
Collecting Debit and Credit Card Payments: Know Your Rights as a Merchant – Small Business BC
Selecting a Payment Processor: Making the Right Choice for your Business – Small Business BC
Flexibility is the goal of technology and with smartphone technology the ability to purchase goods is more flexible than ever to keep up with our incredibly mobile society. According to a BC Business News article, British Columbia businesses are starting to use mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems at a growing number. For small businesses like food trucks, tradespeople such as plumbers, and others lacking a brick-and-mortar location, there is significant benefit to having their point of sale system as mobile as their business. Furthermore, the mobile POS systems are significantly more affordable since they do not require expensive hardware and software to process payments. There are still concerns over security with this route, and some customer sentiment in this BC Business article reflects this, so stay tuned for an upcomming blog post in this series relating to security for more resources.
In a guest post earlier in the series, Women’s Enterprise Centre laid out some easy ways for small businesses to get online with little financial costs. However, getting a live website is just one part of the puzzle in adopting digital technologies. According to Statistics Canada, in 2010 Canadians spent $15.3 billion on online purchases, and the BDC also published a report stating that online purchases were going to be "game-changing" for the future of SMEs. If a consumer is unable to purchase the merchandise you’re selling online, chances are they might find a company that will sell it online, and sometimes that may be outside of Canada, according to CBC. Luckily, with the help of resources like the BDC, technology is advancing to improve your bottom line, allowing you to set up an online shop with little financial investment.
Resources to get you started:
Conducting Business on the Internet and E-Commerce FAQ – Canada Revenue Agency
E-commerce: what to consider when selling online in Canada – Canada Business Network
E-commerce 101: Keys for online sales success – BDC
The Globe and Mail published an article in December 2012 on the trials and tribulations of shipping for Canadian businesses, with some great tips and advice to consider.
Decide first if you want to host your own site or if you want to sell things through a third party, like eBay, Amazon, or Etsy. This article from bplans.com lays out the differences really well, and although they focus on Etsy the arguments hold true for other third party sites too.
Engage with us!
Did you face any challenges while adopting digital technologies? What tools or resources have you used to integrate technology in your business? Have any of our resources been useful to you? We always welcome your comments below!