Mobile-ready small businesses have a competitive edge

Your Customers Are Mobile — Are You?

Small businesses: How easily can your customers find and interact with you through their mobile devices? Four questions to consider.

U.S. consumers increasingly use their smartphones to find and interact with businesses. Mobile phones are becoming more entrenched in daily life, and that means every business — no matter the size — will be expected to be mobile-friendly.

Regardless of which type of business you run and what kind of resources you have on hand, you can probably do more to improve your online mobile presence. Fortunately, a variety of tools and services are making it much easier for small businesses to meet the challenge.

Ask yourself these questions to learn how to better serve your customers.

Does Your Website Provide a Good Mobile Experience?

Mobile-friendliness is now standard for most websites built for businesses, but it’s a good idea to look at yours on a smartphone to try to see it through your customers’ eyes. Does it load quickly? Is it easy to read? If not, talk with your web design resource about making adjustments. For example, increasing the font size or presenting page elements vertically instead of horizontally can make sites easier for mobile customers to review.

People coming to your site from their mobile devices expect to find a few basics prominently displayed, including your business hours, location and clickable contact information. Depending on your type of business, they might also expect easy access to what you sell, or mobile-friendly forms for requesting more information or an appointment. Review your site to make sure these elements are front and center.

Can Mobile Shoppers Buy from You Online?

As more consumers do their shopping online, it’s important for retailers to provide an e-commerce option. More than half of e-commerce purchases worldwide now happen on smartphones and tablets, according to payments platform provider Adyen. Despite this, the majority of small business sites don’t offer e-commerce at all.

Many e-commerce services — Shopify, Magento and BigCommerce for example — work with small companies to create simple e-commerce platforms.

You can also use mobile-ready coupons to reach more customers. Services such as Coupontools and Mobiniti let small businesses create and share coupons via text messaging, email or social media.

Are You Using Mobile for Customer Service?

People manage their lives on their mobile devices, and good customer service is increasingly being delivered there. Many elements of good customer service, such as reminders, updates and other touchpoints, makes mobile outreach a natural fit.

A few specific areas you might take mobile include:

Appointment setting. The ease of making or changing appointments and consultations via mobile appeals to customers. Apps such as Square Appointments and Acuity Scheduling integrate with business websites and let customers book directly, saving you time and keeping calendars full.

Order updates. Customers want to be kept up to date on their order status and related changes. Services such as AfterShip and Shipup let you send real-time order updates and allow customers to track packages through your site.

Reminders. Many appointment-setting apps include features that automatically text customers as their appointment or consult approaches. This helps reduce no-shows.

Are You Equipped for In-Store Mobile Payments?

Nearly 30 percent of consumers made an in-store purchase using a mobile-pay service in 2017, according to Deloitte — that’s up nearly 50 percent from 2016.

Fortunately, accepting mobile payments isn’t difficult, since many card terminals are already equipped to handle mobile transactions. Check with your merchant account provider if you’re unsure. In some cases, you may need a simple software update that your account provider can handle remotely.

Be sure you and your staff are trained to help customers pay with their mobile devices. Though it isn’t complicated, the process varies on different terminals — for instance, some might require customers to press a button before using their phone to make a payment. Apple Pay and Google Pay provide helpful guidance for businesses.

The steps you take to make your small business more mobile-friendly can pay off many times over. Helping your customers find you, interact with you and buy from you wherever they are can strengthen loyalty and increase sales.