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SMEs can innovate their way to recovery with strategic technology investment

Written by Colin O'Flaherty on Tuesday, 16 November 2021. Posted in Financial management, Finance

Technology solutions were a salvation to many small businesses at the height of the pandemic.

SMEs can innovate their way to recovery with strategic technology investment

Technology solutions were a salvation to many small businesses at the height of the pandemic. 

When physical stores and venues were forced to close, SMEs who already had transactional websites in place were immediately able to switch their sales strategies and earn revenue through digital streams. Those who didn’t were playing catch-up, but many swiftly invested in new platforms such as payment gateways to create an ecommerce offering and continue trading. 

This acceleration of tech investment shows no signs of slowing down, even though life is returning to ‘the new normal’. In fact, research from the Barclaycard Payments Small Business Barometer shows that a third (33%) of small businesses are prioritising new technology solutions as part of their rebuild plans.

This is positive news, given the transformative power that the adoption of new technology can have for businesses of all sizes. However, tech procurement is not without challenges: finding the right fit for your business can be tough because of the huge variety of options available.

To help, Barclaycard Payments has created three top tips for SMEs who are seeking new tech solutions that can help their businesses grow. 

Choose specialists with a strong track record

Research is key. Spend time talking with contacts in the industry and reading trade media to understand which technology providers specialise in your particular vertical sector. The company you choose should ‘get’ what it’s like to be a small business in your industry and provide consultancy tailored to your business needs. For example, businesses that need to trade in multiple currencies due to a widening customer base post pandemic, a retailer who needs a suite of products to support with a reduction in friction at the point of sale, or a business that has a need to take payment via virtual cards. Barclaycard Multicurrency, Transact and an enhanced partnership with SAP are just some of the ways we have helped support customers with the above this year. 

Prioritise integration

Technology in isolation can only take you so far. A modern business needs different solutions that integrate with, and complement, each other. That’s why, Barclaycard Payments focuses on providing our customers with products and services which can work in tandem with others. These partnerships aim to simplify processes for our customers, enabling them to spend more time on running their business, and driving return on investment.

Think about the long-term

As we’ve seen during the pandemic, the right technology solutions can keep small businesses afloat when times are challenging. However, our advice is to not only buy for today, but also for tomorrow. Think about the technology you might need in three, five or even ten years’ time, and get the building blocks in place for the next phase of your growth. You will want a partner that not only provides that scope for growth through technology but can offer wider benefits to support your business – particularly during challenging times. For example, many small businesses suffered from cash flow issues during the pandemic, so Barclaycard Payments launched a fee-free Select Cashback credit card to provide one per cent cashback on all eligible purchases for SMEs as lockdown restrictions eased earlier this year. More broadly speaking, selecting a technology provider that delivers more than just the capabilities you need now and can provide an end -to-end service for all your future payment needs is key. 

It’s clear that technology adoption has a crucial role to play in improving the performance of small businesses, but it’s no easy feat getting it all up and running. These tips should provide a useful steer for business owners who are deciding which tech investments to make, but feel overwhelmed with the choices. 

In a world where consumers are becoming more reliant on tech solutions to live, work and spend, small businesses too, need to ensure they are keeping up with changing demands and expectations while protecting their competitive advantage.  

About the Author

Colin O'Flaherty

Colin O'Flaherty

Managing Director: Head of Small Business, Barclaycard Payments.

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