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The new year is almost upon us, and the markets are very exciting for SMBs getting savvy in areas like digital and customer analytics. In this post, we suggest three areas you can transform your business…without expending excess time and effort.

1. Focus on Specific Digital Initiatives

There are many trends in the digital world, but not all suit every small or medium-sized business. The key for SMB owners is understanding which digital investments represent the low-hanging fruit that provide rapid ROI. Once successful with those, they can expand further into digital.

These are what we see working most commonly today:

Leveraging Amazon: SMBs from parts of the world you never thought of as your competitors are selling into your market base using Amazon. Consider gaining a presence there and selling into their markets. Amazon sales are profitable when you sell the right products and target the right audience.

Making your website mobile-friendly: This may sound obvious, but many SMBs are stuck in the PC-based website paradigm. You can stand out and provide exceptional customer experiences by ensuring your website is optimized for mobile. Most website development and design professionals don’t charge extra for mobile-friendly designs because they’re now part of standard website layouts.

Apply BI/analytics: Basic analytics packages are easy to apply to your core processes. For example, you should analyze purchasing trends, vendor performance, website stickiness, inventory turnover versus profit margin, etc.; all of which you can do with SMB-focused, affordable business intelligence (BI) analytics solutions.

Building your core: Just like humans need solid core strength, so does your business. BI/Analytics, website ecommerce and Amazon sales all work better when you have strong accounting or ERP system as the system of record. If your financial systems are a patchwork of integrations, resolve to bring it all together in a fully integrated solution.

2. Get Social

Social media is one of best tools available to small businesses today. For little or no cost, your business can promote your unique value, reach your customers and potential customers, listen to the competition and see how your messages are being received.

Make the time to “listen in” on social media to ensure your customers are getting the positive and memorable experiences you want them to have with your company. As you do, you’ll gain insights that enable you to map the customer journey, which will help you formulate or adjust strategies to reach customers more effectively and at the exact right time in the buying process.

3. Establish and Measure Key Benchmarks

Beyond profit/loss and revenue growth rate, you should be gauging how well your company is performing in critical areas to ensure your growth is healthy growth. For example, perhaps you believe your top-revenue-generating customers are your best customers, but maybe they drain you operationally and hurt your cash flow. To discover your most valuable customers, apply a profit-per-customer benchmark to quickly identify which customers bring you the optimal combination of revenue and profit margin.

Benchmarks we find valuable for SMBs when getting started in their benchmarking efforts include:

  • Cash flow
  • Gross profit margin as a percentage of sales
  • Margin growth rate
  • Outstanding revenue
  • Inventory turnover (tracked against profit margin)
  • Cost of goods sold as a percentage of sales over time

With nearly all metrics and benchmarks, you gain the best insights when you track them over time to reveal the exact direction your company is headed.

The best (and fastest) way to establish your benchmarks and track them over time is by deploying an SMB-focused BI tool against a solid ERP core. Unlike enterprise-sized solutions that are difficult to learn and use, SMB-focused tools like SAP Analytics Cloud are easy to blend into your existing processes. In addition, business-oriented users who lack technical skills can easily collect, analyze, and report on data to drive meaningful actions.

We Resolve to Continue Helping SMBs Succeed in 2019 and Beyond

At Sapphire, we’re staying on top of all the ways you can simplify and grow your small or medium-sized business. To learn how to improve your business, visit our resource hub for growing businesses or contact us today.





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