5 Useful online services for SMEs
by Rational Desi
It’s a general perception that using online services and software is prerogative of big sharks & its too expensive or not worthy for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to use them. There are a lots of simple and easy tools which the SMEs can implement in their business making them connect to their clients easily. Overtime, these tools can enter the evoked sets of the consumers, thereby attracting potential clients, increase market share & differentiating themselves with other companies.
#1. Mail Chimp
- Business Function: Marketing
- Basic Account: Free for lists upto 2,000 subscribers
- Key Benefits: Ready-to-use templates / Feedback on links/ Reach wider audience
Mail Chimp is an Email Marketing website which allows to design templates for your newsletters, promotions, offers, launches or any other stuff you would like to share with your clients. It has a ready-to-use templates segregated on the basis of categories so that you can get the best possible match as per your company and sector. You can post your content immediately or schedule it to a particular date.
It allows to separate a list of your clients into groups so that it reaches the desired segment as per service. For instance, product launch on cosmetics are going to have more impact if shared with only females.
Companies can integrate their stuff with social network to reach wider audience. A blog can be linked to send new content directly to the client inbox. If you think you write amazing stuff, you can also charge your clients for subscriptions.
Reports gives exact details on what links were clicked by which clients. If you start a spa/saloon, a launch email can be sent to all your customers / friends to spread the word. In that email you can list your services and depending on the most number of clicks for a particular service, it gives you an idea that it has interested a lot of people & you can focus more on selling that. If a service is getting a lukewarm response, it can be pulled off from the menu. The behaviour of the customers will give you an indication of the sentiment for your business.
- Business Function: Accounting
- Basic Account: Free for upto 3 clients
- Key Benefits: Auto-dispatch / Online Collection / Any Currency
Fresh Books allows users to create and dispatch Invoices online as well as collect payment from the clients by integrating to PayPal and other payment gateways. Invoices can be raised in any currency. It also allows you to upload company logo to make it look presentable. Recurring payment options can be set for clients who purchase on an average similar quantities throughout the year. Stationary supplier to corporates usually supplies similar quantities & thus they can create invoice once which will be auto-dispatched monthly & payment keeps coming on a regular basis.
Freshbooks can be very productive for someone running a kirana shop (pop-mom store). When there was strong debate sometime back for allowing FDI in retail, a strong point in favour of Kirana shops was that they provide goods on credit. However, recovering that credit from customers usually takes a lot of time & delivery staff needs to go back and forth. In order to save the resources, a monthly dispatch date for invoice can be set & if the client do not make payment before the due date, it automatically sends late payment reminders to clients thereby improving cash flows.
- Business Function: Recruitment
- Basic Account: Free to post job & interview contractors
- Key Benefits: Global talent pool / Monitor progress
oDesk enables to hire professionals across countries challenging the traditional concept of local hiring and talent. Employers post the jobs as per their needs and they offer payment to contractors on per hour basis. Contractors scroll through the jobs and apply for suitable openings. The employer than hires applicants which they think are the most suitable for getting their work done. oDesk can be useful for SMEs who would like to design a website or a poster for promotions. They can simply hire someone from across the globe without worrying to employ a full time resource locally. The employer can also track the applicants work diaries and also see screen-shots & memos of their work.
- Business Function: Front Office / Reception
- Basic Account: Upto 3 free appointments per month
- Key Benefits: Notifications via SMS-Email / Pay Online
BookFresh is an online appointment & scheduling service that allows your clients to request meeting. This tool can be very handy for hair stylist, lawyers, consultants, choreographers, astrologers, etc.
A hairstylist/saloon usually gets a lot of phone calls for appointment. The receptionist traditionally takes down the appointment & might give a reminder call on the day of the booking. BookFresh will allow the client to schedule an appointment online & he/she can scroll through the list and choose the staff they think are appropriate. Clients gets reminder through SMS/Email on the day of the appointment.
Optional facility for paying online at the time of booking is also an advantage.The application can reduce phone bills tremendously and will free your resources for other routine work.
- Business Function: Event Management
- Account: Max fee of $ 9.95 per ticket
- Key Benefits: Notifications via SMS-Email / Pay Online
Eventbrite allows organizers to create-share events & participants to buy tickets online. This service can be very productive for photographers or painters who would get a platform to sell tickets. Since the events are priced, the attendees are filtered and those with deep interest will visit the place. A couple of caterers can also collectively organise food festivals and sell tickets. The capacity for a particular event can also be restricted to avoid overcrowding. Registration page can also be embed on company websites to get information about the visitors
The visitors can make payment through Paypal, Google check-out and other online payment gateways. It accepts donations if anyone wants to contribute voluntarily.