By Simon Davies
As many entrepreneurs are aware, having the right technology can drastically change how well your business performs. Utilizing the most effective software for your company’s needs improves efficiency while simultaneously highlighting any changes that can be made to business processes as the company grows.
Web applications have now become some of the more important tools for businesses across a variety of industries, and can suit the individual needs of customers and staff members alike. Whether this is data management, automating processes, or strengthening relationships between business and clients, there is, as the ad says, an app for that. However, we understand it can be difficult knowing where to start with web applications to streamline your business’s processes. Here are a few of our favorites.
Low-code for speed and ease
Low-code development enables you to build custom web apps to fit your business’s requirements, without any need to know the complex coding languages behind . The low-code industry is booming, and 41% of organizations surveyed use a low- or no-code platform, a 7% rise on the previous year. These web apps can be as specific as required, and are often cheaper than investing in ready-built software. Low-code platforms offer their own unique interfaces and systems for building applications. Outsystems, for example, provides a framework for building apps through a drag-and-drop method for customizable designs. Meanwhile, EASA apps are driven by Excel spreadsheets for speed and specific functionalities.
Both methods come with their own benefits. Drag-and-drop allows you to build the app interface exactly as you’d like, quickly. However, this limits you to the functions included on the platform, which can get difficult when building applications to perform specific jobs. On the other hand, running an app from an underlying spreadsheet gives you the freedom to include the exact formulas you need for the specific roles your business needs without needing to deal with multiple documents and sheets.
Ready-to-use packages ideal for pop-ups
If you’re leading a pop-up or startup, you need to have the right applications to help you start trading as quickly and efficiently as possible. And in a time where fewer people carry cash around, businesses need to be able to accept card payments from the start. This is where software like Square comes in handy, offering a simple point of sale (POS) system which can be run from your smartphone or iPad. Simply create an account, order the Square reader, and download the accompanying free app to start taking card payments.
POS systems like this make it much easier for you to accept card payments without having to invest in a whole cash register or a customized payment system, which can get expensive. It also means you can start with one reader and simply buy more to scale up as your business grows, all while continuing to use existing smartphones or tablets.
Automated online scheduling for organization
If you’re working in the services industry—especially where you need to schedule in clients—you need to be highly organized to avoid missed appointments or double bookings. According to recent research, offering online bookings can actually get you more customers, with 31% of customers more likely to choose a provider that offered this service. Meanwhile almost 70% said they would opt to make a booking online, even if a wider variety of booking options were available. Luckily, there are a few apps that make it easier to offer this for any small business.
One particular standout is HubSpot Meetings, which offers a free starter package, increasing in price depending on what add-ons you want. The tool syncs with either your Google or Office 365 calendar, and lets you set your available hours for clients to choose from, and updates your schedule in real-time. Clients are asked to fill in a form with their contact information, and when an appointment has been booked, a confirmation email will be sent to them, while you have all the relevant details for the appointment.
Simon Davies is a freelance journalist interested in marketing, tech and small business. Follow him at @SimonTheoDavies.